What’s the plan? Tips for making Partner

July 13, 2017

It’s no secret that interviews where lawyers come across as being very well prepared are far more likely to be successful. As you progress through your career however, it becomes more difficult to understand the opportunities that may be available outside your own firm let alone how to prepare properly.

This is largely because law firms quite rightly do not simply put a job advert up and hope for the best. Instead, they engage with legal recruitment consultants to work with them in understanding the market (or markets if they are open to relocating a lawyer from another jurisdiction) to assist them in finding the right talent base for the position.

As a senior lawyer, it therefore becomes increasingly important that if you wish to evaluate your options outside of your current firm, you engage with a specialist in this area to make sure you are well informed of relevant positions to you and how the firm differs from your own.

For example, a role with an excellent firm with a two year run into partnership could well be a better fit than immediate partnership with a lesser quality firm that doesn’t align to your client base or style of working.

The common issue for most lawyers looking for partnership (or even established Partners that are looking to move on) is that they don’t know how to prepare. A new law firm will want to not only know you as an individual, but what you can bring to them as a firm.

With this in mind, here are some useful questions you will need to give careful thought to:

Client relationships
• Which clients do you know well and could easily invite to lunch/dinner?
• How many people within those clients do you know?
• Are they key decision makers?
• How many years have you worked with the client?
• How many years have you worked with the key decision maker(s)?
• Which clients do you know well enough that they would take your call, where you feel there is a good opportunity to develop a stronger relationship over time?
• Which clients have you worked with, but are perhaps on a superficial level and would need to invest in?

Book of business
• How likely is it that these clients would follow you to your new firm? High/medium/low?
• Over the past 3 years, what fees have been generated for each?
• What were your own personal billings for each client rather than the firm/your team?
• If your charge out rate increased, would these clients be willing to pay?

Business development
• What would be your business development strategy at your new firm and how does it align with the firms?
• Why would a client instruct you rather than another Partner at your current firm?
• When you join the firm, what specific clients would you target?
• Would your client contacts generate work for other teams outside of your practice group?
• What level of investment in marketing do you require?

All of the above (and more) will need to be put into a clear and concise business plan. It should be well structured, practical and honest. Putting your thoughts down in a professional business plan is essential and helps you prepare thoroughly before the interview or partnership presentation. Having a legal recruitment specialist consultant to work with on writing your business plan, and challenging the strength of it, can therefore become very useful.

If you are interested in exploring your options at this level in Hong Kong, please get in touch. I concentrate exclusively on recruiting Senior Associates/Counsel/Partners (and teams) into international law firms.

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