My biggest tip for younger players would be this
Sir Woke XR Re… 20 Jun 22 15:59
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If at all possible, and if you’re staying in private practice obviously, try never to work for a firm where client relationships are truly personal to individual partners,

This pattern, where people think they have a “my” client;m, leads to a proliferation of khuntish sub-behaviours such as believing in “my deal” and - worst of all - “my” associates/assistants. Generally firms like this are full of mediocre halfwits stomping around the place like tubby wannabe t-rexes.

If you can, and at least if you’re doing work of an even vaguely commercial (or public sector) nature, work somewhere where the approach to client relationships are fundamentally institutional or, failing that, at least widely enough distributed among individuals that no daft twot thinks he owns X client and everything flowing from it. Wot like the magic circle Laz hey Laz hey Laz like the magic circle? Well yes. The magic circle are pretty good places to work, apart from the hours. As are a small number of the top US firms. I have only spent a short time in my career outside of firms in that bracket and I fooking regret that episode I can tell you,

Basically, avoid big swinging dick culture. Work somewhere where it is generally accepted that, if any individual partner fell off the face of the earth (or, less dramatically, resigned) tomorrow, the wagon would roll on more or less as normal. Somewhere where even the most senior people are essentially cogs in a machine,

The thing is, if you aren't magic circle the biggest ticket to freedom is having your own clients.


That would be most US firms then.  Plus partners in UK firms who misunderstand institutional vs personal instruction and think that their being instructed by a firm client is because of them and not because they have CC/FBD/A&O stamped on their forehead.

yes, I can see that, and I think the sensible thing there is to be principal of your own firm

the problem with biggish firms where people’s client relationships are personal is that ultimately, partners are irrelevant to one another. If you really have got your own clients, your own work and your own team; other partners just become objects you resent having to accommodate in the way you do things.. Firms like that become riven with - I wouldn’t dignify it with the term “politics” tbh - petty emnity.

but basically - work for the magic circle (or, I should add, some of the silver circle, and good US shops). When you get tired of that, start your own firm if you can, or if you prefer go in-house, And never work for Eversheds.

Never work for any institution of any kind where the founding partner(s) name appear in the name of the organisation, unless they are dead of course.

The resentment also comes from having to share the profits that you went into business together to make. 

The partnership deed never adequately deals the feeling that you are working too hard bringing in more business than everyone else and they are getting an easy ride off the back of that.

You don't get that at the MC because if it was possible for you to work harder you wouldn't get made up,

Not bad advice from Laz monster 

Most big firm clients are brought in by multiple partners pitching, not one lass down the golf club

It's good advice but such firms are increasingly hard to find.  Most UK firms are increasingly in thrall to the 'rainmaker'/origination culture. It is inherently divisive and culture destroying though I agree. 

Ultimately there are no prizes at all for being a properly good team player any more (if there ever were). 

my client and my practice is the language of the chippy eat what you kill culture that kills collaboration and teamwork through the building of a khuntocracy of shitheads.

Partners with PE practices are very portable , funds definitely instruct partners rather than firms in the main. Hence you hear almost every other week about partners moving from one firm to another. I have no idea why that is but it’s very true.

I disagree. If you do this then you will never be able to build your own business case. For example get to 8/9/10 pqe and want to move firms then what is your business case for moving as a lateral partner if the clients are institutional to the firm and you can't bring anyone/you have zero following. 

Yeah I'd be very surprised if any 8/9 peekr has a book of business if at the MC or SC, given most of them aren't allowed to run a meeting until 8 years qualified. 

You don't need your own book to become a partner at those places, let's be honest 

the vast majority of partners don't have a personal client basis of any worth either. The firm does

Exactly Dave 

Which is why partners are so hypocritical when they say 'maybe next year old bean, you haven't quite got the business for it yet'  

They forget they didn't win most of their stuff until they were partners 

I'm not chippy about it at all, but I had a few hundred K worth of my own clients for about 2/3 years and then suddenly it was enough for partnership when it was found I was touting myself to other firms 

"a khuntocracy of shitheads"


A collective noun for daily use if ever there was one.

There is a special heh reserved in my heart for the PE partner who joins a US shop guaranteeing that Asspain partners will continue to instruct them.  They do.  It's all ace for the two years of guaranteed wedge.  Then you're in open water and you find out that Dwight J. Doppelshyster III in the minnesota office brought in Ass as a client in 1962 before he'd met Pain and thus Dwight gets a 93% origination credit for all of our erstwhile protagonists hard work.  

A pal of mine is recently appointed managing partner of medium-sized shop trying to deal with exactly this issue.  Any tips for him?

Wang in that scenario wouldn't the new partner just fook off if they tried to reduce his rem?- as guess he has proper with asspain.

Very good thread. In the big firms there is no such thing as 'my' client or 'book of business'. If one partner leaves, there are probably ten others already working with the mega clients, who really just want the firm, not any one individual.

I’ll also add (and this really applies to MC et US) - try your best to do most of your work with the superstar partners in the team and stay close to them. 

I'm pretty persuaded that the magic circle are the most institutional of the high-end commercial firms, with the silver circle (or some of them) next and a few of the big US firms after that. In particular A&O, CC and Linklaters, being essentially financial institutions focused in their client base, are firms where almost literally any partner could go under a bus and client business would be more or less totally unaffected. Freshfields, being more of a corporate focused firm, might be a little different; I doubt it is much so. I don't know much about Slaughters but I doubt tail-thrashing me-monsters are tolerated there.

This doesn't, of course, mean that people at these firms don't sometimes act like arses. In respect of client ownership, I mean. Obviously in general terms loads of people at those firms act like arses, like everywhere else.

Piechucker, it all comes down to incentives. 

The top people at the firm, say the MP and a handful of others, need to get behind an incentive scheme that both appreciates past contributions by senior partners that created valuable client relationships, and values the contribution made now by junior partners in servicing, maintaining and building those relationships.  

It’s not just a paper exercise, the MP needs to call out misbehaviour, and if necessary eject partners who won’t play ball.

While the MP is at it, they should also make sure that the incentive scheme fairly rewards (and  punishes) partners who also contribute through developing juniors both on and off the job (fail to develop staff: such behaviour is only another form of free-loading).

It's always struck me as odd that you are "senior" after only 5/6 years, then a partner after 9/10 years where you remain for about 30 years...meaning the majority of your career (if in PP) is as a partner. I've always seen it as odd that all associates are obsessed with getting the "P" plates asap. It's a marathon not a sprint. To be a law firm partner (with the exception of US firms where you can make millions and millions) just seems so unimaginative and v boring. 

the main reason to want to be a partner is more money, simple as that

not less bullshit or stress. there's considerably more of that when you're a partner.

Fair point lurker. It's also weird how 29 year olds consider themselves senior. When clients can be far older.

But that's the gig.

Get partnership. Get rich.

 "I'd also add (and this really applies to MC et US) - try your best to do most of your work with the superstar partners in the team and stay close to them"


The best advice on this thread

Even better if the partner is a total khunt, which no one else wants to work with. When he puts your name forward, not many will disagree 

well, get partnership get reasonably well off

you want to be rich, you have to either start a business and create wealth, or find a role managing someone else‘a money and creaming off a fortune as a “management fee”.

Conflating advice for different firms here - outside of the MC, top US and ‘global’ firms there are very few firm-wide platform clients with big partner teams arguing them.
This includes a lot of solid mid-tier city firms and the ‘SC’ whatever that is - if you want the P badge you need to show you can go out and snag some clients of your own, unless you happen to work for someone in their fifties (or now, sixties…) who is open to the idea of handing over relationships. Most work remains personal to the partner and moves when the partner moves so the OP’s advice advice is irrelevant there.