So that’s it. You have completed your studies, passed your bar exam and completed your internship. You are now working full-time in a law firm. You are now cherishing the dream of becoming a partner. But how is it done?
Those who have succeeded agree that the best lawyers do not always have what it takes to become a partner. Being productive and working hard is not enough. You have to bring in new clients.
Forget prestigious cases
This is the leading advice of partners interviewed as part of Legalist’s American podcast Rainmaker. Cases such as Apple vs. Samsung may appear prestigious, admits John Pierce, who has been a partner at Latham & Watkins and K&L Gates, but they mean years of hard work that will not set you apart. His advice is to drop this case right away that will lead you to bill for thousands of hours for nothing.
Develop your niche
Rather than killing yourself on a prestigious cause, develop a unique expertise, advises James Berger, partner at King & Spalding. That’s what Yi-Chin Ho did, partner at Kirkland & Ellis, who specializes in disputes related to the car assembly industry in China. Now it’s up to you to find the niche that’s right for you and stay alert to the needs of clients working in this field.
To stand out from the crowd, creativity is essential. By offering your clients several payment options or a new way of seeing a case, you will demonstrate your added value. It’s this added value, more than your hard work, that will let you attract new clients or make a strong impression at a hiring interview.
…but stay structured
But be careful! Creativity does not mean disorganization. Partners have to have a structured plan to meet deadlines and gain the trust of their clients.
Betting on know-how
Your emotional intelligence will make all the difference, both with your clients and with your work team. Stay calm and listen to your clients, even in tense situations.
Know how to develop relationships as well. If you get noticed in a small role with a client, they could call on your services for litigation years later. But for this communication, and above all, trust, must be maintained.