When Arnold & Porter‘s director of professional development, Caren Ulrich Stacy, started working in law firm recruiting in the mid-’90s, she says there was one question that she could count on hearing from every incoming associate, be it a new law school recruit or a potential lateral hire: How long does it take to make partner here? But today, Ulrich Stacy says, it goes largely unasked. “I’ve maybe had that question once in the past five years,” she says.

Why doesn’t anyone ask the partnership question anymore? It’s not the well-documented reluctance of big firms to make new equity partners. In our most recent midlevel survey, which polled 7,259 respondents from 180 firms, more than 70 percent of respondents said they are on their firm’s partnership track, and only a few indicated they strongly view partnership as an impossibility.

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