The Definition of a partner in a law firm
A partner is a senior ranked lawyer in a law firm who has part or co-ownership of the law firm. A partner is entrusted with the responsibilities of the optimal functioning and generation of a law firm’s revenue. In most cases, a partner would have stayed on for years at the particular firm he/she made partner at. For most people going into the legal profession, becoming a partner may serve as their ultimate goal.
A partner at a law firm will in all situations have extensive experience with many years of working in the legal industry. Most partners in UK law firms and beyond also possess specialized knowledge in different areas of law, such as being experts in M&A or employment law. It is not uncommon for law firm partners to have the same duties as other types of lawyers.
The Role/Duties of a Partner
While partners in a law firm may share the same duties or tasks that a typical lawyer (solicitor) will have; they however have a lot more than a typical lawyer. While what a partner does will vary from firm to firm, the general duties of a partner revolve around two main functions: optimal running of the firm and generation of the revenue of the law firm.
Firstly, a partner’s role includes serving as a manager who makes sure that the core operations of the firm are running to the fullest potential. A partner may be in charge of hiring trainee solicitors and newly qualified solicitors, and share the responsibility of acting as their training principal, mentor or advisor to them and other senior lawyers and staff. To make sure of the success of the firm a partner will engage in the problem-solving and decision-making of the firm. Lastly, a partner does is to grow the clientele of the law firm: to make sure that the revenue at the firm is maintained and improved upon. There are also different levels of partnerships practised in the legal field.
The Different Levels of Partner
Generally, there are three categories of law firm partnerships: full equity partnerships, non-equity partnerships or salaried partners and fixed-share equity partners.
Full Equity Partner: A full equity partner is viewed as self-employed within the firm and will receive a good percentage of the firm’s profits each year. In most scenarios an equity partner has a large amount of his/her capital invested in the firm; consequently, if the firm is doing well or not doing well a full equity partner has the most to gain or lose. He/she also has voting rights.
Non-Equity Partner or Salaried Partner: As the name implies this sort of partner receives a fixed salary each year; thus is viewed as an employee of the firm. He/she does not have any equity invested in the firm and is not entitled to a percentage of the profits of the firm. Usually, he or she will have little to no voting rights and have no equity stake in the firm.
A Fixed-Share Equity Partner: This type of partner may secure small ownership of the law firm as they have a small amount of their equity invested in the firm. They are entitled to a fixed portion of the profits each year and some restricted voting rights.
How Much Does a Partner Earn?
In a different article of ours, we established that newly qualified solicitors earn as much as 150,000 pounds in the City – look at our article on what corporate lawyers earn – if this is so how much do you think a partner will earn? According to a report on the U.K top 50 law firms, the highest remunerated corporate lawyer (partner) received more than 17 times what newly-qualified lawyers take home. In January of this year, it was reported that the highest-paid partner at Clifford Chance took home a whooping £3.2 million in the previous year. In 2018, the highest-paid earner at Fieldfisher also earned £3.2 million.
While what a partner will earn will not always reach the above-mentioned figures – their pay usually depends on a host of factors – what is undeniable is that partners are well paid. The least a partner at a top firm will earn will be around £200,000.
How do you become a Partner?
The first and most important step to becoming a partner is to learn everything concerning how the firm promotes people to partnership status. If you know the pattern they have employed you can see what you need to pursue to put yourself in the running for achieving the goal. Secondly, you should understand that there are no guarantees to becoming a partner at a law firm. There is no magic potion or pill that you can take to become a partner. You need to display a host of attributes which tell the firm that if you are promoted as a partner you will carry on the success of the firm on a major scale.
You can display this value by bringing fresh opportunities for revenue generation to the firm. While doing this, work on developing your brand; partners to a large extent are recognized for displaying essential skills that are intrinsic to the law profession. Immerse yourself into an area of your choice. For if you are recognized by the legal world as an expert in a particular area of law it would speak volumes as to your capability of becoming an excellent partner. Lastly, don’t underestimate the value of networking and building great relationships.
Charles is a writer, practising lawyer and personal trainer who loves learning and developing himself. He graduated from Middlesex University, London with eight first-class grades in the second and third years of his law degree, and received a postgraduate offer from Cambridge University. He loves strength training, boxing and encouraging people to succeed in their pursuits (legal ones)
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