How to Make Partner in a Law Firm: Top 10 Characteristics of Superstar Associates Who Make Partner |

How to Make Partner in a Law Firm: Top 10 Characteristics of Superstar Associates Who Make Partner


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Last Updated: Oct 13, 2022

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Harrison Barnes' Legal Career Advice Podcast - Episode 59

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  • Superstar associates do their work efficiently and accurately, and ask for more work.
  • They instill confidence from other associates as well as partners.
  • As a whole, the entire firm realizes the superstar associate can be trusted.
  • In addition, these superstar associates are usually nice to work around.

Summary: What are the characteristics of the best associates that eventually make partner in a law firm? Check out these top 10 characteristics of superstar associates.

The first step in the careers of most successful associates in law firms is gaining the trust of the partners they are working for. The best associates are given assignments, complete them thoroughly and without errors, do so without aggravating the partners they are working for and then ask for more assignments. The ability to do good work and want more work is something that gives the partners the associates are working for security that the work will be done properly. The associates' reputations for caring about their work, being reliable and doing good work makes them stand out. In addition, these same associates work well with others, support the firm and its objectives and are nice to be around.

In contrast, the associates who get weeded out will often cut corners in their work, question whether the partner really needs certain things done, act unhappy a lot of the time, make errors, and, in general, approach the assignments with a lack of care and attention to detail. They will not seek out work and rarely will treat each assignment as if it is the most important thing in the world to them. Compared to the best associates, this behavior gets noticed and puts them at a lower level than the other associates out there.


1. Superstar Associates Enjoy Their Jobs and Are Enthusiastic


The best attorneys of all types enjoy their jobs. In fact, some of the best ones have said things to me like, "I cannot believe I get paid to do this."


When a really talented associate gets a choice assignment, he often appears so excited he could jump out of his skin. Partners love this enthusiasm and want to give work to (and advance) people who find joy in their work. It is this love of the work that often gets clients good results, impresses clients and makes people around these associates enjoy their jobs.

You are generally only going to advance, get more work and be favored by the law firm if you truly enjoy the work you are doing. Therefore, it is imperative that you work:
  • in a practice area you enjoy,
  • with people you enjoy,
  • in an environment you enjoy.

If you are not having fun, you will not do well. Do you think that the most talented athletes, businesspeople, musicians, actors and others got where they are by not enjoying what they do? Everyone at the top of every profession gets there by loving the work that they are doing, and you should too. When you truly love what you are doing, the people around you want to give you more work and advance you.

If you were to go to a restaurant and be served by someone who clearly did not enjoy their job, how would you feel? You would leave a poor tip. Most people would. It is the same thing with the work you do for supervisors. They want to see enthusiasm and that you love what you are doing.

There has always been a large amount of age discrimination against attorneys in the legal profession. Older attorneys have a difficult time getting jobs in law firms unless they have a lot of business. I have worked with countless attorneys throughout the years that are older and do not have business. The ones who do get hired typically have an infectious enthusiasm for their jobs and clearly love the work they are doing a great deal. However, most older attorneys are not as enthusiastic, they often are a bit angry and they do not appear to love the work as much. I think this may be the reason there is so much discrimination.

The very best associates love the work they are doing and get enthusiastic about it. If you cannot love the work you are doing, the odds are that you are going to be in trouble. Law firms want people who love their work and are incredibly enthusiastic about it.

See the following articles for more information:

2. Superstar Associates Treat Partners (and Everyone they Encounter) Like Valued Clients


Being an attorney is a service profession. Therefore, it is important that associates understand how to provide the best possible service to the partners they are working for and also treat others around them in a way that garners respect.

The best associates make partners and others around them feel like everything is taken care of. Things go smoothly.

Years ago, I was being interviewed for a book about how to be a good legal recruiter. One of the things the best recruiters do is take care of all of the details behind the scenes so both sides feel limited stress. The best recruiters make both sides feel as if the transaction happened without them having to do any work. If the law firm tells us about a job, the following may occur:

  • We may spend thousands of dollars advertising the job.
  • We email and call hundreds of attorneys.
  • We take phone calls and speak with hundreds of attorneys.

A week or so later, after 100+ hours of work, we may submit a candidate to the law firm. Prior to the interview, we will spend time with the attorney telling her the positives of leaving her current firm and joining the new one. We may also convince the law firm to interview the new person despite issues they may have with the attorney.

By the time the attorney and law firm meet, both have been vetted, and their meeting goes smoothly. There may be further interviews and back and forth before an offer is made and the attorney is hired. It looks like nothing happened, but an incredible amount of work occurred behind the scenes to make everything go smoothly. The interaction between the law firm and attorney was nothing but positive (despite the fact that had I not been involved, they never would have gotten together).

The ability to make things go smoothly and resolve issues along the way is one of the characteristics of the best attorneys and people in every profession. Partners want to feel limited stress and want the assurance that each assignment will be done properly.

The worst people in every profession create additional stress for people when they do work.

The best associates understand the personalities and likes and dislikes of the partners they are working for. They anticipate the sort of information these partners expect without having to be told. They know what it takes to impress the partner and get on their good side and understand the precise expectations of the partner. This makes partners more likely to give them work in the future because the partner feels that the associate thinks like them and feels comfortable giving the associate work without being micromanaged. It gradually builds trust and makes the partner comfortable having the associate represent the law firm in meetings with clients and takes stress away from the partner.

Being the best possible associate has a lot in common with being an outstanding server in a restaurant. A good server is going to know when to fill your water glass, when to take your order, when they need to speak with you about a delay, how to time your appetizer and main course, and when to present the check. The very, very best servers will exceed expectations and get the best tips. Similarly, the best associates anticipate the needs of their superiors and make sure they are addressed on an ongoing basis.

The best associates empower those around them by virtue of their presence. Partners are given extremely good service which makes them feel good about the associate. The good service makes them feel respected, like they can trust the associate and like they are valuable.

Even fellow associates, paralegals and legal secretaries are treated extremely well by the best associates. The best associates know that when they empower people around them, the entire firm is stronger. This is a leadership trait that is very powerful and important for advancement. Leaders make others (and the group) stronger based on their presence.


3. The Best Associates Get Mentors on their Side


Most of the best associates have mentors on their sides. These mentors generally attach themselves to the associate (as much as the associate is attaching themselves to the mentor) because they are attracted by the associate's enthusiasm and desire to provide such outstanding service to every aspect of their job. When a partner feels respected and as if their knowledge and guidance is important, they naturally want to help younger associates who go out of their way to (1) anticipate their needs and (2) do a good job for them.

I am still in touch today with many of the mentors that I had when I was younger and practicing law. One of my strongest mentors was a partner who was very powerful, but at the same time quite socially awkward. I would sit in his office for hours while he analyzed cases and was generally astonished by how brilliant many of his insights were. I told him how brilliant I thought he was, spoke highly of him to others and loved the assignments and work he gave me. I am pretty confident that all of this helped our relationship and the bond we had together.

Many of these older attorneys become mentors to the associate because the associate is able to be vulnerable and ask the partner for advice. This creates a bond between the two of them where the partner feels invested in the associate's career. Partners want to be in a position where they can offer advice and help associates. The bonds that come about as a result of the mentor-mentee relationship are something that protect and help advance the careers of the most successful associates.

An additional factor that I have noticed is that the mentor-mentee relationship typically works the best when there is a certain amount of informality to it. Partners will generally feel free to open up to some extent with the associate. A mutual understanding will develop over time where both people are on the same team, and the associate and partner both would sacrifice somewhat for each other. There are countless instances I have seen in my career where an associate and partner start a law firm, or move to another one together. They have a bond together that seemingly will keep them working together forever. These bonds are incredibly important and something that every associate needs to work to earn. These bonds will protect you for the rest of your career.

The biggest mistake you can make is not cultivating mentors.


4. The Best Associates Are Always in Control


When I am visiting law firms, there are always various associates who sit at their desks looking slumped over, tired and as if putting in another hour may lead to their final demise. Their offices are generally filled with papers randomly scattered about and perhaps some crumpled clothes in a corner. They may be wearing a crooked tie, and their hair may be a mess.

The best associates know that the people they are working for are like clients. They need to look good and be in control at all times. If a client was to walk into that associate's office and see how messed up everything (and the associate) looked, they would not have a lot of confidence giving that associate more work. Partners, associates and others want to have confidence in the associate, and confidence means being in control.

Being in control takes many different forms. For example, being in control means:

  • looking your best,
  • keeping your office clean and organized,
  • having your shoes polished,
  • having your clothes dry cleaned,
  • not acting inappropriately,
  • taking care of your health,
  • not letting your personal life interfere with work,
  • not playing and talking on your cell phone at work all the time,
  • not abusing substances,
  • having good hygiene (shaving, showering, getting your hair cut)
  • not having affairs with people in the office (regardless of whether either party is married),
  • always acting professionally with colleagues and others.

I have seen people not get hired, or get fired, for tons of reasons when they do not look in control. The more in control you appear, the more trustworthy you appear, and the more likely you will be considered a good associate.

If you had some sort of horrible cancer and went to the doctor, how would you feel if the doctor himself looked unhealthy, unkempt and unorganized? I do not know about you, but I would run from that doctor before I let him operate on me (and most people would).


5. The Best Associates Are Committed


A significant number of the attorneys inside of law firms are not committed to the work. This lack of commitment becomes obvious in a huge variety of ways to partners and others. You need to be 100% committed to the firm you are with and the work you are doing to get ahead.

As a recruiter, I am regularly approached by attorneys who are interested in moving firms for the wrong reasons. If you move every few years (consistently), then the next law firm you work for is not likely to believe that you are committed to them. This lack of commitment will make them trust you less, it will make it more difficult to get mentors and your advancement will be that much more difficult as well. There is nothing wrong with moving firms; however, generally you only want to move firms if there is a real chance that doing so is likely to put you in an environment where you can be committed.

If you are not committed to the firm you are in, it will show in all sorts of ways. Often, when many associates move, a partner is incredibly rude to them and dresses them down after weeks of the associate doing very hard work (or they receive a review which is not that strong). The associate then gets upset and starts looking for a job.

My advice: this is often a time to show the firm you are committed by working even harder and getting over the bump in the road. This will go a long way toward keeping you employed in the long run.


6. You Need to Protect and Build Your Reputation


Your reputation is largely built by your reliability, enthusiasm and how seriously you take every matter the partners assign to you. Whenever you are given an assignment, it should be the most important thing in the world to you.

One of the biggest mistakes young associates make is turning in work that is not complete and perfect. You should never show a partner a memo with a typo on it, for example. When a partner asks you to do something, you should not delay completing it. Showing partners anything less than your best with every assignment will upset and alienate them.

In most law firms, you are expected to work every day of the week if there is an important assignment pending. Earning a reputation for being prompt, reliable, and thorough will help you tremendously.

Partners discuss the associates they work with among each other all the time. If you get a reputation as someone who does not take work seriously and does not do things effectively, they will simply stop giving you work.

When I was working in large law firms, there were always associates inside of these law firms who did not have any work. Often times, they may have done a poor job on just a few assignments for one or more partners and gotten a bad reputation that spread like wildfire throughout the entire firm. I have seen this happen to more attorneys than I can count, and it is never a good thing.

Your reputation will be built not just on the work you do, but also on your personal behavior, relationships with subordinates and colleagues and others. You need to do everything you can to develop a reputation that will help you.

See the following articles for more information:

7. You Need to Work Hard and Always Be Available

Many law firms will, unfortunately, judge you and evaluate you based on the number of hours that you bill. However, this is not always the case. If you seem to be billing simply for the sake of billing, this is not likely to impress partners (they are your clients after all). You should be billing lots of hours only when it is necessary to get command of what you are doing so that you can be as effective as possible.

Attorneys who understand the matters they are working on in great depth are generally more effective than those who do not. If you take the time to dig into a matter so that you can win a negotiation, or complete a transaction to the benefit of your client, then this will be respected by the partners you are working for. These partners will love it when you have a better command of the facts and law than the other side (or even them). This will give these partners confidence assigning you additional work and having you work directly with clients. This is the main reason you want to work as hard as you can.

If you are working on a matter with a partner, you generally need to be in the office working with her when she is working on the same matter. The partners you are working for expect you to be around when they are in the office. If it is a Saturday, they will feel good knowing you are there supporting them even if they just want to pop in and ask you a question.

If you are given a very important assignment the day before a holiday weekend, the partners need assurance that you can be relied upon to do the work. You need to be seen as reliable and available at all times to take on assignments for the people you are working for. Sometimes the best opportunities may come when it is the most inconvenient. If you develop the reputation for reliability and are there to help when others are not, this will benefit your career tremendously.

See the following articles for more information:  

8. The Best Associates Know How to Make Work


Making work means finding things to do. This is part of the legal profession. You cannot simply stand around waiting for work to come to you. Attorneys who operate this way rarely stay busy for long. If you are given a matter to work on, it is always important to find other things that can be done to get the client a more effective result. This mindset creates higher billable hours and more profit for the partners and the firm.

As a partner, your job will be to find work that needs to be done and convince your clients about the necessity of this work. This will keep you busy, protect the client's interest (and hopefully make them more money) and create additional profits for you and the law firm. This is the type of thinking that law firms like to see.

Your job is not simply to do assignments; it is to have work to do. Partners do not like when associates are constantly stopping by their offices with questions like, "Do you have any work I can help you with?" This becomes something for them to worry about. The better approach is to make each assignment lead to a new one by suggesting additional research, briefings, or finding a connection between that assignment and something that another client could benefit from.

See the following article for more information:  

9. The Best Associates Are Always Improving


The best associates want to learn everything they can about practicing law and being better attorneys.

When they are given an assignment in one area of the law, it is not uncommon for them to do extra reading about this area of law during their free time or attend seminars to learn more. Litigators may ask to go to court with partners so they can observe (even if they are not billing). They will ask various questions about how things work and throw themselves into whatever they are doing.

The best associates consider learning and improving extremely important. In order to get better, they will also try to work and learn from the very best partners (and senior associates) in the firm.

In addition, the best associates are always learning in other areas. They may try and become more effective personally by learning to become better team players, feel less stress at work and become better overall people. They will observe the best traits of the partners and try and model their own behavior after them.


10. The Best Associates are Always Honest


One of the real "career killers" of associates is any sort of dishonesty. The list of dishonest things I have seen associates do (and get caught for) is very long. In most cases, they ended the associate's career in the given law firm.

If you make a mistake on a matter, the best thing you can do is make the partner(s) you are working for aware of it. They will respect this because you are protecting them (and the client) and giving them the opportunity to fix the problem. In contrast, if you make a mistake and try to cover it up, it is almost always fatal, and you will generally get caught.

Here are some lies I have seen people get caught for:

  • Lying about hours worked
  • Lying about completing an assignment
  • Lying about doing work for another partner
  • Lying about being sick
  • Lying about who caused a mistake
  • Lying about needing time off to attend a relative's funeral

While not all of these people were fired for these infractions, the lack of trust each of these episodes engendered put the associate in a position where advancement in the firm became very unlikely.

See the following articles for more information:
Frequently Asked Questions

How To Become A Partner At A Law Firm?

After graduating from a good law school and passing the bar, you worked as an associate for a large law firm. Despite all your hard work, there is still one last brass ring you are aiming for - becoming a law firm partner. In addition to legal expertise, business and marketing savvy are also required to succeed in the partnership track. As a partner in an American law firm, you must stand out from your colleagues in terms of your expertise and ability to attract new corporate clients and enhance the firm's reputation. In an American law firm, becoming a partner typically takes between 5-7 years.

Step 1: Honing Your Skills

1. Specialize in a niche area of law. As an associate, you are probably working in a specific area of your law firm, so you are already specialized. Try to specialize even further, however, to become partnership material.
  • Find out what is missing from the specialty areas your department's partners have carved out for themselves. Do you have any legal questions in which no one in your firm is an expert? You may be able to help out.
  • While big, high-profile cases may seem prestigious, working on them does not do anything to help you stand out from the rest of the associates. Do not take on large cases that turn on small legal interpretations.
  • If available, obtaining additional certifications in your niche can enhance your reputation as an expert in that field of law.

2. Develop a reputation for consistently delivering high-quality work. Businesses are built on the results they produce, including most law firms. If you do not always provide good results for your clients and your firm, you will not be considered for partnership.
  • If you need help, do not be afraid to ask. You will not help yourself if you claim to know how to do something and then do it incorrectly.

3. Identify a partnership mentor early on. You may be assigned a partner to serve as your mentor, but that law firm partnership may not necessarily be the best one for you. Find someone with whom you share a common interest who can guide you through potential pitfalls on the path to partnership.
  • It is ideal to find someone with a similar background to yours. Consider finding a female mentor if you are a woman. You can rely on her expertise to navigate the particular challenges of being a woman in a male-dominated field.
  • Having more than one mentor is okay. Mentors outside your firm may also be helpful, especially if you do not seem to have much in common with any of the partners in your firm. They might not help you find a partner, but they can help you grow in your legal profession.

4. Become a volunteer for a niche project. It would be best to speak up when you hear about projects that could benefit from your knowledge and experience to establish yourself as an expert. Do not be afraid to present yourself as an expert in your area and get in touch when a project could use your expertise.
  • If a partner or associate is handling a particular case you have never worked with before, introduce yourself and explain your expertise in the field. Describe how you can be of assistance.

5. Establish yourself as an expert in your field. A good way to increase your chances of becoming a partner is to establish your name as an expert in your specific area, and there are many ways to do so. You can raise your profile by writing articles for law journals or legal blogs, speaking at bar events and seminars, or getting quoted in local or national news.
  • Having your name in a respectable publication can also enhance your firm's reputation and potentially bring in new clients. Readers of your articles may contact your firm when they need legal assistance and ask for you by name.
  • Consider teaching a continuing legal education (CLE) course in your area of expertise through your state or local bar association. The act of teaching CLEs not only establishes your knowledge but also allows you to network with other attorneys in your area of practice.

Step 2: Generating Business for the Firm

1. Learn about law firm economics. Even though law school teaches you to "think like a lawyer," it does not teach you much about the business of being a corporate lawyer, particularly at a major law firm. Practicing law will be the best way to learn this. As you better understand how major firms make money, you will discover ways to contribute and increase your firm's bottom line.
  • The most important thing is to understand how your productivity relates to your worth as an associate. You can become a partner if you are making money for your firm as an associate. However, you also need to show that you are doing things to expand that value and ultimately generate new business.

2. Develop a business plan for yourself as an associate. Your work as an associate should be viewed as a business to make money for your firm. Set concrete steps to achieve your goals using the basic business development plan model and present them to your firm's partners.
  • A business development plan shows your senior partners that you are already thinking like an owner, rather than seeing yourself as an employee who follows orders. It shows that you understand the need to build a volume of business to serve your clients and generate a profit.

3. Establish close relationships with your clients. Your clients will notice if you go above and beyond to provide excellent service. Make sure your clients are aware of every step you are taking and ask questions if they have any.
  • Identify any other legal needs your clients might have and find ways you can meet them. You will help your firm expand its business with that client.
  • One day, you might have clients who ask for you by name when they contact the firm. This shows the partners that you have a potentially irreplaceable relationship with that client, making you a valuable asset to the firm.

4. Recruit new clients by attending industry events and functions. You should not only specialize in a law area but also in the industry that you are serving. You can use industry events to market your services to potential client relationships and educate them on legal issues they might face.
  • Your clients will appreciate your understanding of their particular needs and demands. If you know how their business operates, they will feel more comfortable with you.

5. After the case has been completed, stay in touch with your clients. You may work with a client on a direct legal matter only for a few months, but if you keep in touch, you can form a lifelong relationship and ensure they will come to you for future legal needs. Establish regular lines of communication with your clients and keep them informed.
  • Create a short, simple email newsletter that you can send out once a quarter, for example. You could cover cutting-edge legal issues affecting your clients' industry in your newsletter.
  • You may also check in on a client personally once a month or so if you worked closely with them.

Step 3: Building Professional Relationships

1. Maintain casual relationships with colleagues and partners. Attending lunch or engaging in idle chit-chat around the office might appear like a waste of time, but it helps you form relationships with other attorneys. Being known and liked within the firm increases your chances of becoming a partner.
  • A partnership is all about relationships. They will be more likely to invite you to be a partner if they like you and enjoy being around you.
  • Organizing company-sponsored events, such as holiday parties or summer picnics, is a great way to expand these relationships. But you also want to socialize with your coworkers in a more informal setting.
  • Do not feel obligated to participate in activities you do not enjoy - you will not make good company and your relationships will not be genuine. Maybe you do not have to go to the firm's annual golf retreat if you do not like golf.

2. You can work with several different partners at your firm. When many different partners are familiar with you and your work, your chances of making partners increase exponentially. Early on in your career, be available to help other partners with their caseloads.
  • Do not be afraid to do the grunt work that no one else wants to do. You will show that you are a team player who is willing to do whatever it takes to make the firm successful by taking on menial tasks.

3. Participate in local, state, and national bar associations. As part of a bar association, you have the opportunity to build deep, long-term relationships with other attorneys, both inside and outside of your own firm. Professional opportunities, as well as client referrals, can result from these relationships.
  • Develop relationships with attorneys who practice in related fields for client referrals. If you specialize in wills and trusts, you might network with family law attorneys, whose clients often need estate planning services.
  • You can also expand your expertise in your niche by joining specialty associations.

4. Participate actively in firm committees. As a member of your firm's committees, you build relationships with other committee members and demonstrate your commitment to the firm. Do not be afraid of volunteering for committee assignments.
  • As a member of a committee, you can also show off your leadership skills. Taking the lead on a successful project will impress your committee partners.
  • Look for an area where your company could benefit from an organizing committee and volunteer to set one up. To streamline your firm's recruiting efforts, for example, you might offer to organize a committee to organize the recruitment of new associates if your firm does not have one.

If you make it as a partner, be sure you know what they are proposing. Know the many levels of partnership at your company, as well as how the revenue pie is sliced and when it will be distributed. Many businesses pay partners a draw first and then distribute profits to partners on a quarterly or annual basis.

The majority of BigLaw firms provide two types of partnership: equity and non-equity. Because an equity partner is a genuine partnership, you will need to finance your participation. The assets and liabilities of the firm are owned by its equity partners.

Equity partnership is for firms that want to offer their employees the opportunity to be partners and enjoy the benefits without relinquishing control. You get the benefit of a partner title and prestige through non-equity partners, but you do not own a part of the company.

Is It Hard To Make As A Partner At A Law Firm?

It is hard to make as a partner at a law firm. There are many reasons why it is difficult for an attorney to become a firm partner rather than remain an associate.

First, it can be very expensive and time-consuming for an attorney to become a firm partner rather than remaining an associate. Most firms require that their partners have a minimum of eight to ten years of experience as an associate before they can even be considered to become a partner. Additionally, partners are required to buy into the firm and pay the fee for admission, which is often around $500,000. Attorneys who wish to become partners must also work long hours and not take any time off. It is not unusual for a partner at a firm to bill 2000 hours each year.

Attorneys are paid much more when they remain an associate rather than becoming a partner at a firm. An attorney's salary regarding his years of experience is usually correlated with his salary if he were not an attorney. For example, if an attorney makes $50,000 per year in the first year of his career, it is typical for that same person to make $100,000 when they are in the fifth year of their career. When an attorney becomes a partner, however, their salary usually remains relatively the same for many years rather than increasing with his years of experience.

As an associate, an attorney is often paid by the amount of work that he performs rather than being paid a fixed salary. This means that his income will increase greatly as he performs more work. In contrast, a partner is typically paid a fixed salary regardless of the amount of work he performs for the firm.

In most firms, partners are required to do most of the administrative duties instead of working on their cases. This means that associates often have to pick up and complete any unfinished work that the partner might not have time to complete.

In most firms, partners are not reimbursed for their travel expenses. This is done in order to save money for the firm and give partners a reason to stay at the office rather than going outside to conduct client meetings or business transactions. Although this policy may seem harsh, it is actually a way that each partner can make more money. When an attorney leaves the firm, his existing clients are usually given to other attorneys in the office who can then take over their cases and bill them out at more expensive rates.

As a partner, one is held accountable when he fails to perform his job well or fails to produce for the law firm. It is not unusual for a partner to receive a production improvement plan. If an attorney does not follow this plan, then he could lose his position as a partner very quickly.

As senior associates, attorneys are usually judged by how many cases they can take on throughout the year rather than the quality of their work. This means that senior associates are often encouraged to take on as many cases as possible instead of focusing on the quality of their work. On the other hand, partners are generally judged by their quality of work rather than the quantity.

Because it is difficult to become a law firm partner because associates tend to make much more money until that point, many attorneys choose not to pursue this goal in order to remain an associate for several years instead.

How Much Do Partners In Law Firms Make?

On average, there are about 300 lawyers for each 1 partner in a law firm. Usually, the number of partners is less in large law firms. Although some are very big with hundreds of other employees, most law firms have fewer than 50 partners each.

It depends on different factors like years experienced, experience in certain areas, and how much you can bring into the firm each year. There is a huge difference in salaries among different law firms and even though some may earn a good salary, if they do not bring any clients to their law firms, then there is no guarantee that they will be kept as partners.

Now the question 'how much do partners make' is not answered easily. The salary of a partner can range from $25K to $1 million and above. The average salary of the partners is about $100,000, but it varies depending on several factors like the area of specialization and years in the field.

Normally new lawyers who do not have any experience yet earn small salaries compared to those who have more experience.

SSome salaries may be higher than $1 million, but these are extremely rare cases, and only a very small percentage of lawyers earn this kind of salary. It is normally given to those who bring large amounts of clients to the firm or have specialized in certain highly demanded areas in law firms.

Partners who are more experienced and with good track records will be given high salaries. A partner's salary can increase by increasing the number of years spent in the field, and the more experience they have, the higher their income will be.

Partners also must work hard to maintain their clientele not to lose them to other law firms. This is why they need to keep a certain amount of clients brought to them each year to increase the number of their partners and even retain employees in their firms.

It also depends on where you are working, whether a large firm or a small one. A BigLaw firm allows its partners to work on many cases at the same time, which makes them earn more than those working in small firms.


There are very few associates out there who have an unquestionable reputation for reliability, are completely trustworthy, make the jobs of partners easier, are committed, know how to create work, attract mentors, take responsibility, want more work all of the time, are constantly growing, and all of the other qualities of the best associates. This is one reason why there are so few people who ever make partner in the largest and most competitive law firms.


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About Harrison Barnes

Harrison Barnes is a prominent figure in the legal placement industry, known for his expertise in attorney placements and his extensive knowledge of the legal profession.

With over 25 years of experience, he has established himself as a leading voice in the field and has helped thousands of lawyers and law students find their ideal career paths.

Barnes is a former federal law clerk and associate at Quinn Emanuel and a graduate of the University of Chicago College and the University of Virginia Law School. He was a Rhodes Scholar Finalist at the University of Chicago and a member of the University of Virginia Law Review. Early in his legal career, he enrolled in Stanford Business School but dropped out because he missed legal recruiting too much.

Barnes' approach to the legal industry is rooted in his commitment to helping lawyers achieve their full potential. He believes that the key to success in the legal profession is to be proactive, persistent, and disciplined in one's approach to work and life. He encourages lawyers to take ownership of their careers and to focus on developing their skills and expertise in a way that aligns with their passions and interests.

One of how Barnes provides support to lawyers is through his writing. On his blog,, and, he regularly shares his insights and advice on a range of topics related to the legal profession. Through his writing, he aims to empower lawyers to control their careers and make informed decisions about their professional development.

One of Barnes's fundamental philosophies in his writing is the importance of networking. He believes that networking is a critical component of career success and that it is essential for lawyers to establish relationships with others in their field. He encourages lawyers to attend events, join organizations, and connect with others in the legal community to build their professional networks.

Another central theme in Barnes' writing is the importance of personal and professional development. He believes that lawyers should continuously strive to improve themselves and develop their skills to succeed in their careers. He encourages lawyers to pursue ongoing education and training actively, read widely, and seek new opportunities for growth and development.

In addition to his work in the legal industry, Barnes is also a fitness and lifestyle enthusiast. He sees fitness and wellness as integral to his personal and professional development and encourages others to adopt a similar mindset. He starts his day at 4:00 am and dedicates several daily hours to running, weightlifting, and pursuing spiritual disciplines.

Finally, Barnes is a strong advocate for community service and giving back. He volunteers for the University of Chicago, where he is the former area chair of Los Angeles for the University of Chicago Admissions Office. He also serves as the President of the Young Presidents Organization's Century City Los Angeles Chapter, where he works to support and connect young business leaders.

In conclusion, Harrison Barnes is a visionary legal industry leader committed to helping lawyers achieve their full potential. Through his work at BCG Attorney Search, writing, and community involvement, he empowers lawyers to take control of their careers, develop their skills continuously, and lead fulfilling and successful lives. His philosophy of being proactive, persistent, and disciplined, combined with his focus on personal and professional development, makes him a valuable resource for anyone looking to succeed in the legal profession.

About BCG Attorney Search

BCG Attorney Search matches attorneys and law firms with unparalleled expertise and drive, while achieving results. Known globally for its success in locating and placing attorneys in law firms of all sizes, BCG Attorney Search has placed thousands of attorneys in law firms in thousands of different law firms around the country. Unlike other legal placement firms, BCG Attorney Search brings massive resources of over 150 employees to its placement efforts locating positions and opportunities its competitors simply cannot. Every legal recruiter at BCG Attorney Search is a former successful attorney who attended a top law school, worked in top law firms and brought massive drive and commitment to their work. BCG Attorney Search legal recruiters take your legal career seriously and understand attorneys. For more information, please visit

Harrison Barnes does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for attorneys and law students each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can attend anonymously and ask questions about your career, this article, or any other legal career-related topics. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom

Harrison also does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for law firms, companies, and others who hire attorneys each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom

You can browse a list of past webinars here: Webinar Replays

You can also listen to Harrison Barnes Podcasts here: Attorney Career Advice Podcasts

You can also read Harrison Barnes' articles and books here: Harrison's Perspectives

Harrison Barnes is the legal profession's mentor and may be the only person in your legal career who will tell you why you are not reaching your full potential and what you really need to do to grow as an attorney--regardless of how much it hurts. If you prefer truth to stagnation, growth to comfort, and actionable ideas instead of fluffy concepts, you and Harrison will get along just fine. If, however, you want to stay where you are, talk about your past successes, and feel comfortable, Harrison is not for you.

Truly great mentors are like parents, doctors, therapists, spiritual figures, and others because in order to help you they need to expose you to pain and expose your weaknesses. But suppose you act on the advice and pain created by a mentor. In that case, you will become better: a better attorney, better employees, a better boss, know where you are going, and appreciate where you have been--you will hopefully also become a happier and better person. As you learn from Harrison, he hopes he will become your mentor.

To read more career and life advice articles visit Harrison's personal blog.

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