• Ascending to the role of partner is a dream for any associate.
  • However, there are challenges to being a partner that an associate may not know about.
  • Keep reading to find out what those challenges are.

Summary: Learn about the challenges partners face inside law firms in this article.

Learn why being a partner at a large law firm is much more difficult than being an associate.

For some strange reason, many young attorneys believe that their troubles will disappear when they are elevated from an associate to a partner in a large law firm.

That could not be further from the truth.

The stress and realities of being a partner at a large, modern American law firm are quite profound. In fact, I would say that the self-esteem of the average, well-educated first-year associate is better than that of the majority of partners. While an associate may suffer criticism for the quality or quantity of the work he or she produces, the situation is turned on its head and becomes far more pronounced for partners. The pressures on partners in large law firms are so severe, and the skills required are so different from associate skills, that few attorneys are capable of handling them. Too many lawyers end up “making partner” even though they are unprepared for the task.
A. Harrison Barnes
Harrison Barnes

Being a partner in a large American law firm is one of the most demanding jobs there is. While many partners enjoy practicing law, a large number do not—and are looking to escape. While associates looking to escape ask about in-house jobs, it is partners looking to escape who ask about in-house jobs most of all—even partners with business. There is no letting up on the pressures that partners face and the pressures just keep increasing year after year. In fact, because there is so much gray area regarding how partners are compensated, advanced, and let go, and because of the inordinate amount of politics that directly affects the careers of partners, many partners look back on their associate days as times when life was far, far easier. This article is about some of the challenges partners face inside law firms.