in Changing Jobs, Staying in Your Job

Partnership Prospects

Once the holy grail of career ambitions, partnership is not as important to a lot of lawyers for a number of reasons; firstly solicitors these days are often more interested in quality of life and spending time out of the office doing other things such as sleeping, eating and breathing. Secondly a increasingly larger proportion of lawyers want to have a quality home life, and they sometimes sacrifice progressing their career in the short term in order to raise a family and spend time with their children.

I have noticed in the time Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment has been operating an increasingly large proportion of solicitors and executives want part time work, but the firms seem to be primarily searching for recruiting full time staff. This is particularly so in litigation departments, and I can understand the reasons for this. The smaller practices are perhaps the hardest to crack from the part time perspective, whereas larger firms are recognising the need for more flexible hours, job share and part time work in order to attract and retain quality staff.  

Nevertheless, partnership prospects are an important part of a lot of lawyer’s career aspirations. We often get calls from lawyers requiring astronomical salaries, and we can almost always guarantee that the lawyers have been partners with their current firm, and not appreciated the difficulty in moving to another practice as an assistant without a following and the realistic salary levels involved. It is a fact that partnership can lead to incomes well beyond the dreams of mere mortals and assistant solicitors, and even in primarily LSC funded fields of law, it is not uncommon to find solicitors earning in the region of £70k-£90k pa. Assistants with the same experience would be lucky to bring in £35k at some of these practices.  

There are many different sorts of partners, but they can in essence be narrowed down into two types: those who own a share of the business and hence receive a profit, and those who are dependent on the other partners to determine their remuneration. 

If you are offered partnership you need to consider the options very carefully, including checking the accounts if possible of the firm. Whilst the advice you need is beyond the scope of this webpage, it suffices to say that you want to be joining a partnership that is profitable as opposed to one that is leaking money. 

Partnership prospects are worth their weight in gold at some firms, and in other firms they are a burden. If you are offered a partnership fast track position by a firm it is worth asking them for an estimated date for joining the partnership, how many lawyers have previously been promoted from assistants and associates, and the average time it has taken from them joining the firm to actually becoming partners. Check what benefits are on offer to you if not becoming an equity partner. 

If you are at Newly Qualified level, take an offers of partnership very carefully indeed. The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal pages in the Law Society Gazette are littered with examples of NQ solicitors who have been struck off after a bad experience with dodgy partnership offers….

If you want advice about partnership and the options available if you have a following and think of moving, email us at cv@tenpercent.co.uk

Jonathan Fagan

Jonathan Fagan LLM FIRP is Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment. He has been recruiting solicitors and legal support staff for law firms and in house legal departments for over 17 years and handles roles from junior fee earners through to partners and law firm sales/purchases. A non-practising solicitor on the Roll since 2000, he is also the author of a number of legal career books, which are available at www.legalcareercoaching.co.uk. You can contact Jonathan at cv@ten-percent.co.uk