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The route to partnership

If progressing to partner is your aim, you’ll no doubt be keen to envisage your route to get there. Here at Michael Page Legal, our partnership practice doesn’t just help existing partners but has a strong track record of assisting senior lawyers who are looking to take their first steps into partnership. This can take a number of different routes and in some cases it could involve moving firms.
Whatever stage you’re at in your legal career, there are a few common traits that can help steer you in the direction of partnership. Some of these considerations are detailed in the article below.

Are you bottle-necking?

If you’ve worked your way up the ranks from a newly qualified lawyer to junior associate to senior associate – you may well be hankering after that coveted next step to become partner. If you’re a respected senior associate who’s regularly leading transactions with minimal supervision, successfully introducing clients and supervising junior lawyers – it could well be time for this next step upwards. However, this is not always as easy as it sounds and senior associates can often find themselves stuck in their roles, unable to progress. Often this is because there isn’t a strong enough business case for the firm to put you forward for that next step – even though it is deserved.
One option is to talk to a recruitment specialist, such a Michael Page, who has a strong track record in the industry and in helping out bottle-necking individuals with aspirations to be partners. With niche knowledge of the legal market, a recruitment specialist could help you to better understand your options. This may involve seeking a new, transitional role which has a clearer route to partnership.
Luc Salmon, associate director of Michael Page Legal, discusses the steps to take as a newly qualified lawyer to help reach the partnership level.

Build a following

It’s essential that you make every effort to build up a following of clients. Most lawyers with a following will bill very well and will be considered too important to lose by their firm, hence having a good chance of getting to partnership. To do this, consider the following:
  • Try to do as many secondments as you can. Understand how an in-house client works to help ensure you do the best possible job for them and get their work in the future.
  • Really get involved in networking. Attend as many relevant events as you can - such as those events run by accountants, chartered surveyors, venture capitalists and HR forums. It’s important to actually do some genuine networking, rather than just going through the motions. Your efforts may not yield immediate results but they should give you more confidence and help you to build long-term relationships that may eventually lead to something. Remember, if you don’t ask – you’ll never get!

Get involved in pitches

Get involved in any of the pitches that your firm is doing. Putting your hand up to be involved will give you visibility with the partners and with the clients they are meeting. While it doesn’t necessarily guarantee you billable time, it will highlight you to the partnership as someone to rely on to win work.


  • Billing is obviously important. Always make sure you are billing as many hours as you can, as this should bring you to the attention of your peers and is often a criteria for partnership selection.
  • Don’t completely neglect non-billable tasks. Look for where you can pitch in with other tasks too – such as recruitment, marketing, technology, or other areas within the business.

Show an interest in your organisation’s future

  • Don’t just show an interest in your own personal development, but also the success of the company as a whole. You’ll need to demonstrate your commitment to working for the company’s entire good rather than simply your own personal gain.

Time for a move?

If you don’t seem to be progressing towards partnership and feel help back in your current firm, don’t be scared to move to a smaller firm where you could get access to more clients and more work. By making a move, you may get to partner sooner. Also, once you are a partner, this smaller, new firm may give your more access to clients - thus making you highly employable when you want to move on.
Browse our current legal jobs, or contact us to discuss your career in more detail.