Becoming a partner is, for some solicitors, a lifetime ambition and a real marker for success in their careers. Currently, the Scottish legal profession has about 3300 partners in private practice, made up of the two streams of salaried partners and equity partners.
Being a partner typically requires a combination of experience working in the law, combined with a drive to take on more responsbilities that take you into a more business leadership role. Dependent on the type of firm you work for, you will have different responsibilities in addition to being an expert in your field. You will likely also manage a team and importantly, lead on bringing in commercial income from clients to sustain or grow the business.
People will feel ready to take the step up to partnership at different stages of their career.
You must also undertake training in a variety of areas before becoming a partner, as well as attending our Practice Management course.
If you want to become a partner, make sure you have the conversations you need with the people in your workplace. Don't assume that people know what you're working towards, as everyone has different career ambitions.
Get other people you trust to help you with your career development plan, such as another partner at your firm, a manager or the HR team. Lead the conversation and say what you are working towards and lay out your timeline and action plan of how to achieve it. However, ask for their input. Someone else can be a helpful sounding board into whether you might need additional skills and experience from their perspective, or perhaps they can share information on whether there is a specific partnership track at the firm.
Consider the skills you'll need to be a partner as competencies you need to build up in the years prior to reaching the next step. Just because you're a good lawyer, it doesn't mean you'll naturally be a good people manager or adept at developing your client base. These skills require time and attention. Successful partners are honest about their strengths and weaknesses and owning their personal and professional development.
Attend training courses on areas that you know you need to improve or consolidate.
Consider getting a mentor, who might be another partner in the firm to help you on an ongoing basis with your career development. There may be an internal scheme at your workplace, or we run a career development mentoring scheme for members.
Show you can grow the business
Proactively seek out business development opportunities to win business for your employer, show your commercial mindset and prove you can attract income.
Ask for more experience
Explore whether you can take on additional responsibilities that are new to you that you know will be necessary to be a partner, such as people management, attending events and networking opportunities, or becoming involved in strategic planning for your team or business.