Inherent in nearly every partnership decision is the bet that new partners have fundamental rainmaking skills–or will develop them quickly. More than ever, firms are counting on every new partner to develop a prolific practice and all current partners to expand their practices.

But ask those new partners how to do that, and the answers often are vague cliches–”the cream rises to the top” or “success breeds success.” Certainly, partnership alone won’t do the trick. In today’s intensely competitive market, being a partner in a top firm means little to nothing when it comes to actually winning business.

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