Law has often been looked upon as one of the more traditional, conservative professions. Historically, the Partner* position has been the ultimate pinnacle of the legal career ladder, and it remains so in the eyes of many in the legal position. Partner infers prestige, influence and gravitas; the denouement of the solicitor's career.
However, business developments since the "Big Bang" of the 80s have made this ambition increasingly difficult to attain. In a world with ever increasing specialised roles; and where the barriers to partnership become more challenging to overcome, should this position remain so coveted?
It also remains in question as to whether the allure of the title is enough, if it is devoid of the associated duties and responsibilities. In larger firms with a larger number of partners, the influence of the individual on decision making becomes diluted, and decision making generally becomes focused on the Managing Partner or smaller silos within the bloc.
The environs of the small, family-oriented high street firm may still be suited to the traditional model, which provides both structure and stability. Nonetheless, regional and national firms need to consider what other options there are to progress employees and express their value when the opportunities for partnership become increasingly limited. Employees move firms once they reach a glass ceiling preventing partnership, so diversification of the progression routes is key.
Individuals aspiring to reach that level also need to be sensitive to the changing requirements needed to reach Partner level. The days when it was a simple matter of keeping your head down, working hard and waiting for recognition are gone. A strong background in Business Development and lead generation is often considered a necessity in larger modern law firms, and this takes time and effort to develop.
While the title of Partner is unlikely to lose it's sheen anytime soon, the realities of the modern legal market require careful thought on part of firms as to how firms should be structured in this new and developing context.
(*This aspiration should be more specifically defined as Equity Partner, owning a share in the business, as opposed to the Salaried Partner position (though this is often a position on the road to equity)).
Legal professionals are increasingly becoming disillusioned with the traditional model of partnership in a law firm, according to a new survey from Bygott Biggs, the specialist legal recruitment consultancy. After contacting over 1,000 legal professionals, over three quarters (78%) said that they thought the traditional model of partnership in a law firm is outdated.