At what year do firms usually make it known you won't make partner?

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At what year do firms usually make it known you won't make partner?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jan 18, 2018 10:15 pm

Currently a mid-level associate at a V10. Was curious to know what the typical experience is like for knowing whether you will make partner or be forced out. Do they tell you by the time you are a 5th year so you can still lateral? Or do they wait until after your 7th or 8th year to say "too bad" thereby screwing you over for lateral chances?

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Re: At what year do firms usually make it known you won't make partner?

Postby Johann » Thu Jan 18, 2018 10:51 pm

Probably very group dependent. I think the most sure-fire way of knowing is probably get a lateral offer and tell your firm, and based on their reaction you would kind of know.

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Re: At what year do firms usually make it known you won't make partner?

Postby mvp99 » Fri Jan 19, 2018 12:24 am

For me, 2nd year

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Re: At what year do firms usually make it known you won't make partner?

Postby run26.2 » Fri Jan 19, 2018 12:57 am

Probably depends on the length of the partnership track. In my experience, it has been around the end of the sixth year, which is a bit past your prime for lateralling. Also, the message isn't always either you'll make it or you won't. It can be you're not definitely going to make it, but you might under some circumstances.
Last edited by run26.2 on Fri Jan 19, 2018 12:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: At what year do firms usually make it known you won't make partner?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jan 19, 2018 1:47 am

A couple senior associates here were seriously hoping for partnership, but to date, they have been disappointed. Nevertheless, they remain hopeful that they’ll make partner during the next go-around. It will either work out or else or at some point they’ll realize that they are like the greyhound who just never can catch the bunny.

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Re: At what year do firms usually make it known you won't make partner?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jan 19, 2018 11:42 am

Totally depends. Could be your second review. Could be as a sixth year. The better you are, the more likely you will be strung out until you are pretty senior. IME, if it is clear the firm is not impressed and you are out for partnership purposes, they’ll try to let you know by year two or three so you have lateral options.

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Re: At what year do firms usually make it known you won't make partner?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jan 19, 2018 11:53 am

Anonymous User wrote:Totally depends. Could be your second review. Could be as a sixth year. The better you are, the more likely you will be strung out until you are pretty senior. IME, if it is clear the firm is not impressed and you are out for partnership purposes, they’ll try to let you know by year two or three so you have lateral options.


Yeah my concern is that you're "strong" but then something happens in year 7 or 8 that makes them say no, but you're too senior to have good lateral opportunities.

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Re: At what year do firms usually make it known you won't make partner?

Postby 1styearlateral » Fri Jan 19, 2018 1:06 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Totally depends. Could be your second review. Could be as a sixth year. The better you are, the more likely you will be strung out until you are pretty senior. IME, if it is clear the firm is not impressed and you are out for partnership purposes, they’ll try to let you know by year two or three so you have lateral options.


Yeah my concern is that you're "strong" but then something happens in year 7 or 8 that makes them say no, but you're too senior to have good lateral opportunities.

Still have good exit opportunities for in-house. Plenty of in-house job openings that require 8-10 years of experience even at the associate counsel level.

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Re: At what year do firms usually make it known you won't make partner?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jan 19, 2018 4:49 pm

1styearlateral wrote:Still have good exit opportunities for in-house. Plenty of in-house job openings that require 8-10 years of experience even at the associate counsel level.


My understanding was that this may be true for transactional work but not necessarily true for litigators. Or at least the number of litigation in-house spots were a lot fewer. Anyone able to comment on this?

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Re: At what year do firms usually make it known you won't make partner?

Postby 1styearlateral » Fri Jan 19, 2018 6:01 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
1styearlateral wrote:Still have good exit opportunities for in-house. Plenty of in-house job openings that require 8-10 years of experience even at the associate counsel level.


My understanding was that this may be true for transactional work but not necessarily true for litigators. Or at least the number of litigation in-house spots were a lot fewer. Anyone able to comment on this?

OP didn't specify lit or corp but yeah IME there doesn't seem to be a lot of in-house positions for litigators. Unless you want to go work for an insurance company.

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Re: At what year do firms usually make it known you won't make partner?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jan 20, 2018 1:16 am

As others have said, totally depends on firm. Unless pushed out earlier, at my firm (v20) your review after your fifth year (aka as a rising sixth year) you enter a separate review program where your reviews are much more in-depth, and the management committee is involved. You get a 1-2 sentence statement on your future with the firm that becomes increasingly more specific as you go through your 6th, 7th years etc.

i will get mine this upcoming year, but know others of course that have gone through it. i suspect my statement will be a vague, general statement that leaves the option open of maybe having a slight chance of a service partner but plenty of cold water on that. i am not partner material and i know that, nor am i trying to be, but if you are truly partner material, your review would be a bit more rosy.

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Re: At what year do firms usually make it known you won't make partner?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jan 20, 2018 9:37 am

Is partner material literally just billing like 2800 hours a year and always being available / running deals as a mid level. That's what it seems like the partner gunners at my firm are doing.

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Re: At what year do firms usually make it known you won't make partner?

Postby ThisLawyerLife » Sat Jan 20, 2018 6:07 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Is partner material literally just billing like 2800 hours a year and always being available / running deals as a mid level. That's what it seems like the partner gunners at my firm are doing.


Depends on the firm, but in my experience, the people who make partner have strong (but not insane) billables plus demonstrated commitment to business development. The ones who just bill constantly are viewed as worker bees, not leaders. Associates promoted to partner hit their hours (and then some), are able to manage cases and matters, but also have strong client relationships, good visibility within the firm, and are making efforts to network, publish, etc. and build a profile beyond the firm too.

To the original question, each firm is different, and different practice groups within a firm may differ too. Ideally, you would have a talk with your practice group leaders around your 6th year to get a sense for whether they think you are partnership material and to identify what you should do to be promoted. You should also take the opportunity to express your interest in becoming partner.

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Re: At what year do firms usually make it known you won't make partner?

Postby nealric » Mon Jan 22, 2018 12:26 pm

I wouldn't just rely on formal feedback for this sort of thing. I think most associates get a good sense of whether there is any likelihood of partnership based on their hours, the type of work they are getting, their relationships with partners, and their general development.

There's no specific timeframe for this, but if you are a second year and you seem to struggle to get work while other associates are getting slammed, then you probably need to lateral (partnership prospects or no). If you are a 5th year and have done almost nothing but doc review/diligence work, partnership is probably not in the cards. If you are a 7th-8th year and you are not taking on management/oversight duties or being invited to client-facing activities, things aren't looking good. You also need a champion to make partner- a partner who has good political capital who is willing to go to bat for you. If you don't have a partner that you are very close with, that's not good. If they do specifically say partnership is not in the cards, I would take that as a soft firing (unless they specifically say they plan to make you counsel instead)- saying it generally means they want you to start looking.

Of course, no matter what the indicators are (formal or otherwise), you can get hosed by circumstances beyond your control. The firm may have a down year where they don't make partners, or you could inadvertently step on the wrong toes and have someone is a position of power oppose your promotion. However, I would point out that it's not impossible to lateral as a very senior associate or counsel and still make partner if you were otherwise in great shape and lost out due to circumstances beyond your control.



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