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Congratulations, you’ve made partner — the pinnacle of your first phase of success as an attorney. That’s right: This is only the end of the first phase and the beginning of a more demanding and, ultimately, more important one. Now begins your real work — transforming yourself from an employee to an owner of the firm. While your legal skills have been recognized and rewarded, yet to be developed are your leadership and managerial skills. These skills are critically important, not just to your career but also to the institution that has demonstrated its trust in and commitment to you. Being a partner means different things at different firms, depending on the size, practice and geographic location of the firm, but one thing all new partners can share with pride is the knowledge that they have earned the recognition and respect of their colleagues. After all, there can be no higher vote of confidence than being asked to share in the risks and rewards of a business venture. To live up to that vote of trust, you must strive to advance your firm’s interests in ways you may never have imagined. Along with your larger office comes a tremendous responsibility to the firm as an institution — an institution you should be proud of. The leadership role you are taking on is very different from the role you played as a senior associate. To clients and other outsiders, your words and deeds will reflect directly on the firm. Within the firm, your colleagues and staff now look to you to help ensure the continued success of the institution. You are also are now a model for associates — some of whom are your future partners and the lifeblood of the firm. How you relate to the administrative staff, the associates, the clients and your partners is all part of your transformation. Beyond interpersonal relations, you must incorporate a host of personal and professional changes into your day-to-day routine. A NEW EDUCATION Take the time to study the business of the firm itself. Take the time to understand the nuances and politics of the firm, including how your individual practice relates to your practice group and also to the firm as a whole. Begin your leadership role by studying the interaction between your partners, particularly the senior partners in the firm. Be respectful of them. Listen to what they are saying and how they are saying it. Carefully select the issues you want to participate in, the issues you want to speak out on. Study your firm’s strategic plan and actively work toward achieving its objectives. Prove yourself to the institution and the institution will listen to and support you. Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft offers a “boot camp” for new partners — two or three days dedicated to learning more about their new responsibilities. If this is available to you, clear your calendar and your head for these few days. A successful transition to the role of partner begins with immersion in the learning process. FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITIES As an associate, you drew a fixed salary and perhaps a bonus. Now your compensation is most likely based on myriad factors, some of which you have little or no experience with (see the list below). Expenses you once sought to get approved are now yours to approve. And the benefits you were given, as an associate, you must now pay for yourself. Many new partners are surprised that they must pay their own benefits, including insurance, and start paying their income taxes quarterly. You will need to learn how to manage your personal finances — and learn how cash flows in an institution. ADMINISTRATIVE RESPONSIBILITIES As most partners will agree, you now face more, not less, work. You will need to balance legal work with new administrative responsibilities. Along with the administrative tasks within your practice, such as recruiting, staffing issues and billing, you will be expected to get involved in the running of the firm by participating on a committee. Working with partners from different departments and practice groups is an ideal opportunity to learn more about the firm and what your colleagues do. It will also make you a better salesperson for the institution and your department. MARKETING RESPONSIBILITIES It’s time to start establishing your own identity by networking, marketing, giving speeches and rainmaking. Establishing your identity means stepping out of your mentor’s shadow and making friends and contacts in other departments within the firm and outside the firm. Take advantage of training that can help you cultivate your own practice, as well as bring in business to the firm. Pay attention to the areas that the firm wants to grow in. As you attend and speak at lectures, conferences and seminars, remember your professional duty as a representative and spokesperson for your firm: You are the face of the firm to prospective clients and recruits, as well as the public at large. PARTNER DUTIES Now that you share responsibility for the smooth functioning and profitability of your firm, here are the partner activities that are valued by most firms: � Recruitment, training and continuing education of associates to ensure the health of the firm and contribute to overall associate morale. � Management, which includes short- and long-term business planning, compensation, administration, associate reviews, oversight of the technology and office systems and supervision of nonlegal staff. � Marketing and business development through professional associations, attending and speaking at conferences and seminars, writing articles and being active in community and civic groups raise public awareness of the firm and improve its image. � Client satisfaction and retention, of course, are of the highest importance to a firm’s bottom line. Don’t worry about excelling in every one of these areas. Each of us has different strengths. The key is to use those individual strengths in combination with those of our partners to achieve the highest collective good for the firm as a whole. For some, this may be practicing law at a high level; for others, it may mean contributing in business or management areas. Remember always the goal of making the firm greater than the sum of its parts. If it were simply about rainmaking and billable hours, we would all be solo practitioners. The law is both a great profession and a great business. You are now ready to make your unique mark on both your firm and the law. What you will get out of your firm and your profession depend entirely on what you put into them. Robert O. Link Jr. is chairman of Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft and also serves as chair of its capital markets department.

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