How to signal the desire for, and get on, the partner track


1 Work out whether it's what you want

Consider your short, medium and long-term aspirations for life in the broadest sense. To what extent does your professional practice take priority in those mental images and do you see it changing over time? The reality is that becoming a partner is a life decision and may be something you want 'but not yet' or 'yes, but not here'. Setting up your own practice may be your ultimate goal. If you are unsure or have questions about the physical, mental, financial and familial impact of becoming a partner, talking to partners in firms other than your own may be helpful. In their book How to Make Partner and Still Have a Life, authors Heather Townsend and Jo Larbie write: "As a partner ou have all the pleasures and pains of a business ownership, while enjoying/suffering the collegiate and consultative culture of a partnership."

Katy Wedderburn, Macroberts
"You have to make a conscious effort that this is what you want and ‘lean in’ (thanks Sheryl, it's true). Honestly, partnership takes more of your time than you might sometimes like. It becomes part of your life and who you are; and you can't always leave work behind when you go home to your family. Don't begrudge your time to your job because if you want partnership, it will be very rewarding when you achieve it."

Katy Wedderburn, partner, MacRoberts LLP

Toni Ashby
"You have to be able to perform at a high level and make sacrifices. If you are happy then everything else will fall into place, and the children will be happy too."

Toni Ashby, partner, Clyde & Co

"I see the hours that partners, particularly in large firms, have to put in to ensure fee targets etc are met and they must be sacrificing family time in order to do this and that is not something I want to do. Unfortunately, I don't think that a parent can have the same career path as a non-parent without making significant sacrifices to their family life. I think this is particularly the case if you choose to have your children at a young age before establishing your career, as I did."

Lynsay Kelly, solicitor, J&A Boyd

2 Assess your prospects in your current firm

Standing back and assessing your current firm, how possible and appealing does partnership look? Think about the basis on which recent partners have been made so and speak to existing partners about what they are looking for in future partners. Commerciality, commitment to the firm's vision and values, management and leadership aptitude, work ethic and both your internal and external 'market value' are all likely to be high on the list. The importance of these and other factors will vary by practice.

"I moved to a smaller firm which is much more family friendly so now I have more responsibility within the team, which I have enjoyed. Partnership has been suggested, which I don't think it ever would have been in my previous firm."

Sheana Campbell, associate, BBM solicitors