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The road to partnership

The road to partnership

While it takes an average of seven years to make partner, some lawyers can fast-track themselves to partnership in half the time. Briana Everett reportsIN 2011, it takes (on average) seven years…

While it takes an average of seven years to make partner, some lawyers can fast-track themselves to partnership in half the time. Briana Everett reports

IN 2011, it takes (on average) seven years for a lawyer to reach partner status, according to a new survey by Robert Half Legal.

The survey, which asked 175 lawyers to estimate the average number of years it takes a lawyer to make partner, revealed a decline in the time it takes to reach partnership, down from eight years when the survey was last conducted in 2003.

"The time it takes to make partner has declined slightly, but competition remains high," said Robert Half Legal executive director Charles Volkert.

"Some firms have reduced the number of partner positions, which has prompted associates to seek alternative careers options, such as non-equity partner track or another less traditional path."

According to Volkert, the demographics at a given firm can also impede or hasten an associate's route to partner. "If a firm's most senior partners have postponed retirement, there may be fewer openings for associates," he said.

While it usually takes lawyers about seven years, it can take just three to four years for lawyers who take a strategic and proactive approach, according to Dezz Mardigan, manager, partner & practice group acquisition, JLegal.

"Normally [it takes] seven to eight years but some lawyers can be put on the 'fast-track' and become partner within three to four years - depending on the type of partnership structure the fi rm has in place," said Mardigan. "The most influential factor, of course, boils down to how much business one can generate and bring into the employing firm. It's called the good old and reliable book of business and it certainly takes developing and nurturing client relationships to make that happen. Those associates who have the 'paying' clients and the billings to show for it are those associates who will be the 'fast-track' partners."

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