{ "media_type": "text", "post_content": "What do firms actually look at when evaluating people for partnership? I feel like the majority of partners in my section lack organization, leadership ability, management skills, or even good client management skills. It seems more like they were just the ones that stuck around and kept billing a ton. Is this the norm?", "post_id": "6102c40cb710fd002a762fa8", "reply_count": 15, "vote_count": 7, "bowl_id": "5df70ed2f7169f002b172d3f", "bowl_name": "Big Law" }

What do firms actually look at when evaluating people for partnership? I feel like the majority of partners in my section lack organization, leadership ability, management skills, or even good client management skills. It seems more like they were just the ones that stuck around and kept billing a ton. Is this the norm?

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At the three firms I’ve been a partner in: 1. Full competence to handle, without supervision, matters typically handled by the firm. 2. A business case showing a high likelihood of remaining fully productive at the partner level for the foreseeable future. 3. Being a good firm citizen. 4. Being trustworthy in the sense that firm management won’t lie awake at night worrying that the person might expose the firm to financial, legal, or reputational risk by doing something stupid, unethical, or illegal. People rarely have all four qualities in equal measure, so strengths in some of these areas often lead firms to excuse weaknesses in others. But with that proviso, that’s the formula.

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1. Have a big book End

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Worked for a classic, used to walk around the office in his socks just to make the other partners uncomfortable with 30 mil book. And just a genuinely nice guy. Just a smooth operator with clients, judges, opposing counsel. Sad when he retired

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Ouch. Many partners I work with are badasses who have great leadership skills, bill a ton, bring in a bunch of business, and are people I’d actually be down to hang out with after work at a HH

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At my firm, it really depends when they made partner. Before mid-1990s (approximate): reasonably competent lawyer but worked for the right two or three lawyers who had the pull to make basically whoever they wanted to make partner. Most of these people now have little if any business and I wouldn’t retain more than one or two of them for anything. From early 2000s to 2015: they made almost no one in my group partner and the criteria (with a limited number of true exceptions) seemed to be that you had to be married or blood relatives with the GC of a huge company. Since 2015: you had to fall into one of the groups they are looking to promote. It’s political in the worst sense. As you might notice, your overall ability as an attorney (beyond possessing a minimal level of competence that most people who make it at least 7 years in biglaw have) had very little to do with promotion in any of these time periods. There’s very few, if any, people who made partner who was uniquely good at litigating. And some were (and are) frankly not good. Also, very few people (maybe one or two ) who made partner in my group in my 20 years at the firm had their own unique, portable business (or any business anyone would care about). The litigators generally service firm clients and the ones with a business case largely had the same case you could have made for 5-10 other senior associates at the firm at or about the same time (except for whatever criteria the firm wanted to push at that time).

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V10?

I think firm dependent. But in my experience billing a ton is a given and those other qualities are critically important.

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Stupid question: can you become a partner if you only ever bill 100 over the req but do great work? I’ve never been the 2500 hour type

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Yeah if you have some political and other factors cutting your way. Conversely, you could bill 2500 every year and not make it if you don’t have some of those. See Counsel’s post(s) above.

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