What is an equity partner in a law firm, and why should anyone care how it is defined? The fact is, law firms matter to a democratic society. The influence of the profession extends far beyond its office towers, and the size of many firms now qualify as major businesses. Law firms also serve as significant training grounds for important roles — particularly in the judiciary, politics and government.

For the nation’s leading law firms, defining the term “equity partner” should not be an esoteric exercise. Understanding the way this term is used — even manipulated — and developing a consistent definition that means the same across all firms, is critical to the profession and all organizations that collect and report data for a variety of purposes.