Attorneys work extremely hard in large law firms to achieve partner status. Even when they do become partners, there remain different lines of authority between partners which make some feel important and others quite insecure. When an associate is dealing with a partner, he or she is dealing with someone who is in a position to feel insecure because there are almost certainly going to be more important partners above him or her. The best thing you can do in the law firm environment is cater to a partner’s need to feel important. Conversely, one of the worst things you can do in a law firm environment is do things to make a partner feel insecure. When you make a partner feel insecure, the response of the partner is generally to stop giving you work or lobby for you to be fired or replaced.
This article discusses two steps that generally occur in an associate’s relationship with partners that can make a partner feel insecure. First, the relationship will generally start out well but will progress to the point where an associate may take for granted a partner’s affections for him or her. Second, the associate may publicly outshine a partner he or she is working for. It is the latter mistake that is most often fatal to an associate’s career. Despite a consistently excellent work product, the associate will quickly find himself out of a job despite being a very good practitioner. Finally, this article concludes with some advice as to how to avoid inspiring insecurity in partners. It is also sometimes the case that partners do work for other partners, so this advice also applies to lower-level partners working for more senior partners.
- Do Not Take for Granted a Partner’s Affections for You
All working situations require a distance between people. When you are hired by a law firm, it may be to work for a particular partner who may have hired you because he or she felt comfortable with you and had shared interests. Never mistake these shared interests of perceived affection for anything more than a professional relationship.
In the law firm environment, partners may share with you all sorts of details about their personal lives. You may get to know about a partner’s family, may discuss personal issues at lunch during business trips, and you may even go out and get drunk with a partner or group of partners on occasion. Because your superiors are people too, you may begin to feel that the partners you are working for are your friends. As the relationship develops and the level of familiarity increases, you may even be under the impression that mistakes in work can be handled as friends, as well. None of this could be further from the truth.
It is a very typical pattern inside a law firm for an associate to begin doing work for a given partner and when the associate performs well, the partner increasingly gives the associate more and more work. At first, the partner is very unfamiliar to the associate and the associate is doing everything within their power to produce outstanding work product and impress the partner. In addition, the associate will be extremely dedicated and will do whatever he can to make the partner look good. He will ensure that the work he is doing for the partner and the advice he gives the partner is of the highest quality.
This article Why Attorneys Who Do Not Make the Attorneys Who Give Them Work Feel Important Can Destroy Their Legal Careers first appeared on BCG Attorney Search also on Powershow.
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