How to signal the desire for, and get on, the partner track
Once you have clarity in your own mind about your desire to become a partner in your current firm, communicating your career direction to the people who have the ability to facilitate it is important. It's human to make assumptions and your manager may not be aware of ambition unless you are explicit and seek specific guidance.
Karen Wilkie, associate, Peterkins
Suzie Falconer, associate, Walker Laird
Jenny Allan, senior associate, CMS Cameron McKenna
You may have watched colleagues similar to you in terms of life stage/family profile fail to get onto the partner track in your firm and conclude it is impossible for you. If you believe there is conscious and/or unconscious bias at play, consider who inside and outside the firm you could approach to discuss your specific situation and any concerns you have. Consider the Law Society’s mentoring scheme - it may be able to place you with someone who has achieved partnership whilst having a young family. (Also see the Society's Standards of Conduct Rule 1.15 on diversity). The perceptions partners have of individuals' levels of commitment are likely to be a significant driver of their propensity to see a given person as having partnership potential. Given this, it is important for you to consider how you can best demonstrate commitment and therefore manage perceptions decision-makers have of you.
Clare Macpherson, partner, Thorntons Law LLP
Lindsey Cartwright, partner, Morton Fraser
Carly Mason, associate, MacRoberts LLP
There's still much work to do in our profession to shift assumptions about the aspirations of individuals who work flexibly. It may be useful to approach the more progressive partners in your firm about how you can best demonstrate your commitment and suitability for partnership. Additionally, flexibility can mean many things and there may be ways of creating informal flexibility that allows you to cover the practical realities of family life (dropping off and collecting children from childcare, eating a daily meal together, doing bath time or supporting with reading and homework) whilst still delivering for your firm.
Sue Arrowsmith Rodger, partner, Pagan Osborne
Katy Wedderburn, partner, MacRoberts LLP
Claire Anderson, solicitor, Scottish Government
An individual's track record and future potential for bringing work into the practice are key considerations for partnership decisions. Spending time building your expertise and showcasing it in places your target clients and referrers regularly access (social media, speaking at conferences or CPD sessions, radio, magazines, journals and business events) will build your reputation as a go to person and make you a more attractive prospect as a partner, which may be some way into the future. It's useful to set aside some time each month to a) expand/deepen your knowledge on a given topic and b) plan how you can share it internally and/or externally.
Janet Hood, solicitor, Janet Hood Consulting
Lindsay Anderson, solicitor, Stewart & Watson
Carolyn Burns, director, Maclay Murray & Spens LLP