QI’m a first year at a prominent Los Angeles firm. I’m doing exceptionally well so far. I know it’s a long way off, but how do I increase my odds for making partner?
A“Doing exceptionally well.” Good for you, playa. Really. I admire your resolve, and humility. When I was a first year, I was more concerned about making happy hour than making partner, but that’s probably why I’m not a lawyer anymore. Though your question is a bit premature, here’s my sincere advice to those associates gunning for partner from day one:
1Work with the most powerful partners in your firm and make them love you. Sounds easy, but it’s not. It’s also risky. If you work with them and they don’t love you, you’re dead. If they do, you’ve got a shot. Not a great shot, but you’re still in the hunt.
2Develop a marketable expertise within your chosen practice area by your fifth year. If you’re a litigator, find a sub-specialty. Health care, media, intellectual property. If you’re a corporate geek, become an expert in private equity deals, LBOs, muni bond offerings, hedge fund, etc.
3Write law review articles, give speeches, teach classes. It’s not only critical to develop an expertise, but you also want to let the world (and the firm’s partners) know that you have said expertise. Never hurts to let the bigwigs see that you’re out there pimpin’.
4Originate meaningful business in your sixth or seventh year. Not that easy to do, trust me. But if you want to make partner today, you’ll need clients, or at least a realistic chance at landing clients some day soon. Law firms are businesses. Never forget that. It’s tough to say no to people who generate revenue, or at least show the potential to generate revenue.