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My next move: What should I do if partnership is not an option?

My next move: What should I do if partnership is not an option?

‘Will I progress to partnership?’is the question senior lawyers will ask themselves at some point in time.

‘Will I progress to partnership?’ is the question senior lawyers will ask themselves at some point in time. Whilst some decide not to pursue partnership, others will simply not get there. The question then becomes, ‘Where to now?’

Many senior associates trapped in the partnership bottleneck of larger firms move to mid-size or boutique firms. At the moment, many of these firms are pursuing growth strategies and can offer lawyers a track to partnership with quality clients and work. Many also offer lifestyle benefits.

A special counsel appointment will suit those who don’t want to be involved in business development or partnership administration. These roles acknowledge the high level of skill and experience lawyers bring to the firm and do not necessarily mean partnership is not an option.

In-house is a popular choice for senior lawyers. These types of roles suit lawyers who can balance commercial or business imperatives and the law. Sometimes these roles can be used as a stepping stone into non-legal general management roles.

The Bar can be a natural progression for litigation lawyers. A few years of practise can arm lawyers with the confidence and the contacts needed to get a good start.

Many government departments lend themselves to practice specialisations. For example, the Commonwealth or State DPP for criminal lawyers, ASIC for corporate lawyers, the ACCC for competition lawyers. General positions also exist in the the Attorney General’s Department, the Law Reform Commission or Legal Aid.

A career in academia is an option. A tentative step can be made into academia by taking on casual tutoring positions whilst considering long term career goals.

There are a range of career options for lawyers who do not progress to partnership. The decision not to pursue partnership is an opportunity for lawyers to broaden their horizons and start a
new chapter in their career.

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