Yvette Ostolaza and Penny Reid. ()
Most young lawyers dream of the day they will make partner. It’s a monumental milestone in your career that represents years of hard work, determination and dedication. Being partner in a law firm and suddenly realizing all of the perks that come with this distinction can be overwhelming at first. As senior partners, we offer the following suggestions on how to ensure you make the most of this career milestone.
First and foremost, we strongly believe that striking and maintaining a balance between your work and personal life is important. Whether it’s family, pets, social or religious activities keeping you busy outside of the office, these commitments should be treated as equal to your work commitments. For us, it was our children and family activities that dominated our free time. We made a point of calendaring school and our children’s events just as we would calendar other work events. We honored our personal commitments just as we would any work-related activity. By allowing yourself time away from the office to enjoy outside interests, you’re actually giving your mind and body time to recharge. Most successful partners find a way to achieve this balance. For us, this resulted in business development, too.
Choose a Great Mentor
We all have people we admire and aspire to emulate. When you’re a brand new partner, you have a new role with new challenges to conquer. You do not have to go it alone. One of the best things we each did after making the transition to partner was to seek out a senior partner we trusted and respected to serve as a mentor. Having a seasoned professional who has experienced exactly what you’re going through to help you navigate through the partner years is invaluable. You may be surprised by how many senior partners would jump at the chance to share their knowledge and help junior partners, who are essentially the future leaders of the firm.
Don’t Forget Your Friends
It’s important to always remember those who helped you, even in some small way, along your journey. Sometimes the smallest kindness on the roughest day goes a very long way. We all have examples from our own careers of people who have helped us along the way. Even if the help you received over the years may have seemed insignificant at the time, these individuals were there for you and supported you on your journey toward becoming partner. Always remember to show kindness to those around you and continue to treat your colleagues at all levels with the utmost respect.
Network, Network, Network
The further you advance in your career, the more it becomes necessary to have a strong network of clients and contacts. One of our law school friends who is currently working at a large law firm may, in the near future, become general counsel with an organization that is one of our prospective clients. As you schedule lunches or dinner parties, or when you have extra tickets to sporting events, for example, think of all the different people you know and extend invitations to them whenever you can. The person sitting next to you at your next social function may just be your next client. That can also be an associate who now reports to you.
Being up to speed on new trends in your industry as well as others that touch on it will make you a valuable resource and position you to potentially add new specialties to your area of practice. For example, although your current focus may be in employment law, energy might be the next boom market. Keeping current on industry trends and being prepared to refocus your skills will make you well-positioned to take advantage of new business opportunities. We often say to clients and prospects, “We’ll do windows, if necessary,” to make sure we are not limiting ourselves.
You’ve just made partner. You have fulfilled a lifelong dream and are on the cusp of something truly great. You don’t have to achieve everything that comes with being a partner all at once. Remember, your career is a marathon, not a sprint. Take your time and enjoy it.