Positioning Yourself for Partnership: Strategies for Senior Associates with Portable Business Making a Lateral Move to a New Firm

Law firms are dynamic entities, and unexpected shifts in office management, politics, and economics are more the rule than the exception. Even stellar senior associates who have been at a firm since their first summer in law school can be unpleasantly surprised as they approach what they thought was a slam dunk partnership decision. The fall of 2008 has provided dramatic examples as major law firms dissolved and migrations of large practice groups occurred. Suddenly, the ''open slot'' in seniority that you thought had your name on it becomes filled by a new group of attorneys coming into your firm. Or, a sudden shift in legal market economics can postpone deals or settle cases. The work you had keeping three junior associates busy is suddenly barely enough to fill your own time. And then there is random bad luck, when the one person in the office whose personality grates against yours gets promoted to the management committee. Often law firm management lets you know it's not going to happen. You need to move, now what?