In May, the DAYL Young Partners Committee assembled partners from some local law firms to discuss the Long Transition to Partnership. Sarah Rogers of Thompson, Coe, Cousins & Irons, moderated a panel that included Dave Schulte of Thompson & Knight, Neal Suit of Carrington Coleman, and Katie Stepp of Deans & Lyons. Although the partnership process is different at every firm, the panelists provided very clear advice to all young lawyers:

  • As a new associate, nothing is more important than your work product. Be dependable, available, and responsive to the needs of your partners and their clients.
  • As a mid-level associate, continue to provide excellent work, but focus on the big picture. Partners want to see associates show initiative and take ownership of projects. Also get involved in firm administration and activities to let partners know you see the practice of law at your firm as a career, not just a job.
  • As you approach partnership, make sure you know the firm’s expectations and understand the selection process. If you want to make partner, make sure your firm knows that is your goal. Adopt a mentor or champion who is familiar with your work and who can guide you through the process and perhaps advocate on your behalf.

The panelists also advised young lawyers at all levels of experience to be organized and systematic about business development and marketing efforts, work collaboratively with your fellow attorneys, focus on ensuring your firm’s success as a whole, and understand that an enormous book of business is not a necessity to becoming a partner. Nor is it always sufficient. Firms will consider your unique assets and what you bring to the table. And when you make partner, the work has only just begun.

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