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Those all-nighters as a junior associate, the last-minute out-of-town trips, the manifold hours at the printer, the cancelled dates and dinner plans, the lost, never-to-be regained evenings with one’s children, the politics of competing against one’s fellow associates. Those days are now over, and the ascension (for a select few) has just taken place. You’ve been elevated to partnership, a full member of what for years was perceived as a very exclusive club. After building up a reputation through at least seven years of hard work, you’re suddenly faced with new responsibilities, and it is critical not to let your good reputation fall into disrepute. The elevation from associate or counsel to partner is indeed a rite of passage. In making that passage, you’ve proven your ability to a skeptical, difficult group (those partners who made it first). That same passage suddenly differentiates the new partner from all of his/her former associate colleagues and friends. Some of the differences are mundane (the larger office); others are akin to joining a private club (attending partner-only meetings); while still others call for an entirely new perspective on day-to-day and month-to-month expenses (paying estimated taxes quarterly, paying both the employer and employee sides of the requisite FICA contributions and, in some firms, having an uncertain monthly draw, depending on how collections are going). Throughout it all, it is important to consider the following key topics when conducting yourself in this new role. � Timeliness Counts. To ensure that one’s time is recorded and generated promptly, timeliness (also known in some firms as legal hygiene) is paramount. There is nothing more irritating to managing partners than to see a blank next to a partner’s name in weekly or monthly billable hour reports. Not only does this affect the timeliness of collections, but it also showcases a certain lack of internal discipline and responsibility on the part of the delinquent timekeeper. This is one area in which to avoid being noticed. Time entries are tedious, and in this technology-driven age are seemingly old-fashioned, but they are the cornerstone of most law firm profits. Additionally, it is each individual partner’s own compensation that is affected by incomplete time sheets; the labor rules on paying employees in a timely and regular manner no longer apply in one’s new position. In fact, more firms are now holding back monthly draws for partners who submit chronically late time sheets. � Silence Is Golden. For years, associates have wondered what goes on behind those closed-door partner meetings. As an associate, one always appreciated that individual partner who parceled out tidbits about the politics of the firm, or what the raises would be or even about the reviews of fellow associates. It will be very tempting on a personal level to be that type of partner. Ignore the temptation. Nothing good will come of being known as the one who cannot keep secrets. Partnership meetings are closed for a reason. � Too Much Ego Is Unappealing. You have joined a partnership, a voluntary association of individuals committed to making a profit. Teamwork is noticed, appreciated and rewarded. Reputation and ability (not to mention, personality) travel quickly within a partnership. You do not want to be known as the self-serving partner who fails to share the credit or who ignores the accomplishments of others. The time to broadcast one’s accomplishments is at the end of each year, when many firms have individual compensation interviews with senior partners on the management team. At that time, there is no upside to modesty and you have no reason to shrink from enumerating your successes. � Volunteer for Committee Work. There are probably too many committees at too many law firms. Having said that, join a firm committee, even though your schedule never seems to permit and the time is not billable. There is no better way to learn the internal processes of decision-making and get to know partners with whom you would otherwise not interact. Additionally, as with joining a civic association, you’ll be truly appreciated by others for doing the work they are unwilling or unable to do. � Clients, Clients. Never lose sight of the single most important factor for a firm and its individual partners: the clients. Always market. As a partner, you have a whole new level of credibility with friends, colleagues, former classmates and business acquaintances. Never underestimate this heightened level of credibility when trying to establish new clients from cold or warm contacts. Of course, it is usually easier to cross-market and expand the billings of an existing client rather than bring in a new client. Cross-marketing was the law firm mantra of the 1990s, but it always seemed to be more of a concept than a reality. Any initiative a new partner shows in this regard will pay off quickly by burnishing your internal reputation. � Training Pays Off. Poll after poll shows that associates, especially those at New York firms, frequently complain — and rightly so — that they do not receive enough training or mentoring. Change that pattern and get involved. Additionally, work with the firm’s recruitment coordinators or human resource departments to devise or revise training and mentoring programs. Showing recruiting and HR your commitment to associate retention will help attract the best and the brightest, a feat that will not go unnoticed by senior management. � Reputation Is Everything. Do not forget your external reputation. The New York legal marketplace is characterized by much less than six degrees of separation. Unproductive, unprofessional or unethical behavior with an opposing counsel may not only invoke the ire of senior management, but will undoubtedly become known to people at other law firms — which you might think of joining as a partner in the future. Above all, use common sense and remember: The least enjoyable part of the whole experience is now over. Richard J. Zakin is the executive managing director of Strategic Legal Solutions and a former partner with the New York offices of Bryan Cave (where he was the New York resident managing partner from 1997 to 1999) and Dorsey & Whitney. Andrea Rapaport, executive vice president of Strategic Legal Solutions, assisted in the preparation of this article.

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