Who has the time?
As a new partner, you’ll be expected to do a lot: be an expert in your area, market yourself, generate new work, service client relationships, maintain a large file load and have the billings to show for it, participate in the management of your firm, and mentor and develop junior lawyers under your management.
Any one of these could be considered a full-time job, and you can’t afford to lapse on any of them.
What’s more, firms often don’t share with aspiring partners that finding the time to achieve all of that on your own is nearly impossible.
Take the easy road
One mid-tier partner I’ve worked closely with gives all the aspiring partners in her team the same advice. If you want to be able to juggle all of the above: start building your team now.
She started building her team as soon as she became a Senior Associate. Her philosophy is that by investing heavily in her team members from an early stage and nurturing their development as lawyers, she is able to delegate absolutely everything that can be delegated.
This allows her to focus her limited time on the things which she can’t delegate, such as generating work for the team and managing the practice.
By doing this, she was able to reach partnership a full year ahead of schedule and comfortably find the time to continually grow the size of her practice year-on-year. She invested heavily in a few select team members and now that she’s a partner, she has several mid-senior level lawyers keen to reciprocate the loyalty she showed them in their earlier years.
She now sees the continuing development of her team as the single most important aspect of her job, and credits the mentoring and development work that she did earlier in her career for her success in becoming a recognised leader in her field.
The takeaway is simple. Despite the fact that most firms don’t list team-building as a criteria for promotion to partnership, it’s much harder to get there if you’re doing all of the heavy lifting on your own. Don’t wait until you have more on your plate than you can comfortably manage to start building your team. Investing heavily and early in the development of junior team members will save you more time – long term – than it takes.