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Making partner at Day, Berry & Howard, the Hartford, Conn.-based firm continually preaches, isn’t dictated by the number of candidates who come up in a single year. “We’ve always said that we don’t have quotas and that we evaluate each person on their individual merit,” said Robert G. Siegel, chairman of DBH’s executive committee. Still, with eight of its attorneys knocking on the firm’s equity door in November, there were more than a few skeptics among its rank and file, Siegel admitted. Electing eight partners in a single year? “There was a belief by some that the firm just wouldn’t do that,” Siegel said. “They were wrong.” Effective Jan. 1, all eight became members of Day, Berry’s elite — the largest partnership class in the 230-lawyer firm’s history and six more than last year, according to Siegel. Though most other of the state’s largest law firms polled for this article didn’t elect half that many this year, many did make at least one more new equity partner than they did in 2000. PERCEPTIONS PLAY A ROLE Having a realistic shot at equity partnership, after all, has long been a selling point that Connecticut firms have used to retain associates and compete for prized law grads against larger — and higher-paying — legal outfits in New York and Boston. “We’ve always felt that was something that sets us apart — even from other firms in this market,” insisted Eric D. Daniels, managing partner of Hartford-based Robinson & Cole. Like Day, Berry & Howard, Robinson remains a one-tiered partnership system. This year, R&C elevated three associates to equity status. Although it made six new partners last January — including five who previously were designated as counsel, a more senior position than associate — the size of this year’s crop is “fairly consistent with what we’ve done over the last few years,” Daniels said. Among other factors, partnership decisions at Robinson & Cole, Daniels acknowledged, are influenced by the perception such votes are likely to create — both among outsiders and associates climbing up the firm’s ranks. All three of this year’s candidates, Daniels maintained, were of the caliber that, “if they didn’t make partner, you would be concerned about how other associates would react to that.” Still, it’s not as though firms elect partners merely to perpetuate the contention that it’s an easier trek to the top in Connecticut than in other larger legal markets. “It all depends on what’s in the pipeline,” Cummings & Lockwood executive director Peter Giuliani said of the number of elevations the Stamford firm makes each year. This year, C&L invited four income partners — a salaried position that all of its associates must attain before eventually being considered for equity partnership — into its uppermost realm. Giuliani said it also promoted five of its associates to income-partner status. Both figures are one higher than in 2000. “We still look long and hard at people, [especially] when we make equity partners,” Giuliani said. Wiggin & Dana managing partner Noel E. Hanf agreed, “We don’t say to ourselves ‘We want to attract people — and therefore we will make Joe a partner.’ ” This year, the New Haven-based firm elected three associates partner — one more than last year, Hanf said.

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