Sixth Year Associate in Good-Standing at Branch Office of Large Firm Wondering Whether He Should Consider Moving to a Firm with Better Opportunity for Partnership |

Sixth Year Associate in Good-Standing at Branch Office of Large Firm Wondering Whether He Should Consider Moving to a Firm with Better Opportunity for Partnership


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I was recently speaking with a friend who is a sixth year corporate associate with a large firm in Los Angeles. This year the firm promoted only two associates to partner and neither one works in the Los Angeles office.
Sixth Year Associate in Good-Standing at Branch Office of Large Firm Wondering Whether He Should Consider Moving to a Firm with Better Opportunity for Partnership

I was recently speaking with a friend who is a sixth year corporate associate with a large firm in Los Angeles. This year the firm promoted only two associates to partner and neither one works in the Los Angeles office. My friend has consistently had very good reviews, and the Los Angeles partners have told him they will go to bat when he is up for partner. However, he believes the Los Angeles office does not have the pull and power it used to which is partly why the firm did not promote anyone from his office. While my friend is happy at the firm, he can not help but be concerned for his future and opportunity for advancement. He was wondering what he should do.

Sadly, the chances of making partner these days at a large firm are slim – even in a booming economy. There are many factors that come into play as to whether someone is promoted to partner, including likeability of candidate, potential of candidate to bring in business, political savvy of candidate, candidate’s practice area, hours candidate billed over the last 3+ years, and the economics of candidate’s firm. In the case of a large firm’s branch or satellite office, you also need to consider the office’s overall reputation within the firm. It is important to consider whether the partners in your office have the “pull” to help advance your career. If the firm has routinely promoted associates in your office to partner and this happens to be an “off” year due to the economy, then my best recommendation would be to stay put but explore other opportunities as a precaution.
If the Los Angeles office has not been self-sufficient and has relied on other offices for work for over two years, it would be wise for my friend to explore other options very seriously. As you get more senior, it will become more and more difficult to move to another firm without having an existing book of business. Now is the time to look into other opportunities. 2010 is already showing signs of being a stronger market for laterals.

You can expect a firm of ANY size to take at least two to three years before they even consider a lateral associate for partnership. There are NO guarantees. It is possible to be turned down for partnership, but then make partner at a later time. Of course you may be promoted to Of Counsel (if the firm has attorneys with such a title) and then promoted again to partner. At this stage in my friend's career, ANY law firm – no matter what the size – is going to hire him with an eye toward partnership. The hiring process will take much longer than for more junior associates, and he will certainly be asked to provide a conflicts form and possibly a business or marketing plan. A firm is going to ask him questions about his existing experience but also about his relationships with firm clients. Ideally, any firm that hires him will hope he is able to bring in work and certainly will expect him to help generate more work from existing clients.

Many believe it is “easier” to make partner at a small or mid-sized firm. This assumption is usually true, but the factors that come into play in making partner at a large firm are the same factors that a small or mid-size firm considers. With more and more large firms focusing on their core or top 10 institutional clients, more and more of the “middle market” companies are being referred to the small and mid-size firms. Also, generally these firms have lower billing rates (although not always) making it is easier to bring in new clients who simply can not afford large firm billing rates.

It would behoove anyone in my friend's position to speak with a seasoned recruiter who would offer advice for his/her particular situation. Work with someone who is honest and is going to look at the big picture. You need a recruiter who is not motivated by money but rather helping people and doing the right thing. Particularly if you are in good standing at your firm, like my friend, and not necessarily in a rush to leave, work with someone who is going to offer good advice based on what is best for your career and not the recruiter’s need to make a placement or fill a job opening. Of course, I would recommend BCG Attorney Search ( to find such a caliber of a recruiter!

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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