Attorneys work extremely hard in large law firms to achieve partner status. Even when they do become partners, there remain different lines of authority between partners which make some feel important and others quite insecure. When an associate is dealing with a partner, he or she is dealing with someone who is in a position to feel insecure because there are almost certainly going to be more important partners above him or her. The best thing you can do in the law firm environment is cater to a partner's need to feel important. Conversely, one of the worst things you can do in a law firm environment is do things to make a partner feel insecure. When you make a partner feel insecure, the response of the partner is generally to stop giving you work or lobby for you to be fired or replaced.

The insecurity of superiors
A. Harrison Barnes
Harrison Barnes

This article discusses two steps that generally occur in an associate's relationship with partners that can make a partner feel insecure. First, the relationship will generally start out well but will progress to the point where an associate may take for granted a partner's affections for him or her. Second, the associate may publicly outshine a partner he or she is working for. It is the latter mistake that is most often fatal to an associate's career. Despite a consistently excellent work product, the associate will quickly find himself out of a job despite being a very good practitioner. Finally, this article concludes with some advice as to how to avoid inspiring insecurity in partners. It is also sometimes the case that partners do work for other partners, so this advice also applies to lower-level partners working for more senior partners.