Partnership Agony Uncles Mark and Paul are lawyers specialising in professional partnerships and have helped many lawyers with their partnership problems.

Here they continue their irregular series of answering partners’ problems, but with a topical US twist.

Hi there, Mark & Paul

I am a partner at a large US law firm in London and we have our senior partner elections this week and I’m wondering how to vote. 

There are only two candidates and I don’t much like either of them and, in fact, nobody really likes either of them. A colleague described them as appalling, self promoting and greedy people; they’re great law firm partners!

However, I have to vote. Hillary is the office insider, who’s been with the firm since she was a college intern and Donald is an outsider, a non-lawyer with alleged business experience who is offering a new way of doing things. Donald’s wigs are amazing he keeps telling us we will be great again as a firm. He changes his wife more often than his wigs.

Hillary has been mired in scandal since the IT department found her using her personal e-mail account to reply to client’s e-mails and internal audit have cleared her, raised more concerns and cleared her again. Her husband used to be senior partner and was in involved a scandal with a junior employee whom he confused with a humidor at the office Christmas party. Her husband behaves like a charming version of Donald but irritatingly has his own hair and no one seems to object.

Donald on the other hand is the ops director and new to the business. He says that we need non-lawyers at the top and he has extensive business experience, but not all of it salubrious. He too is mired in controversy following a series of incidents with female and foreign staff at the office Christmas party. Donald will grab any advantage he can, particularly in recent days when he has threatened to involve the Courts as he claims the election is being rigged - frankly his view is “who would vote for a woman, never mind that woman?

Donald wants to build a new fence round the office to keep out undesirables and has said he’ll make them pay for it. Hillary wants to expand the firm’s healthcare scheme. Sadly, the two of them used to be friends and socialise together but since the election started they are hurling abuse at each other. It is doing the reputation of the firm untold damage and we need the best leader possible in difficult circumstances.

Who should I vote for?


Dear Chuck

Paul: We normally like to give unbiased advice with a range of options for you to consider. In this case, we’re not. Vote for Hillary as it sounds like she is definitely the lesser of two evils. Donald could speak to our Prime Minister about thinking he is always right and threatening to involve the Courts when the answer is obvious. Often the Courts give the obvious answer and not the one that is being demanded.

I’d be worried about having a Senior Partner who thought he could ignore what the Courts say.

Mark: I rarely agree with Paul, but he’s right this time about the need to vote for Hillary. However, Paul has got one thing wrong – Donald probably could not bring himself to ask the Prime Minister for guidance as she’s a woman, and she’d probably object to the Downing Street Cat being grabbed by him.

Unfortunately, your firm is in serious trouble, its reputation lies in tatters and the legal community is laughing at the downfall you are seeing from the inside and seeing a business opportunity arising elsewhere in the world, whatever the result.

You might want to join another firm moving forward, but check the terms of your Partnership Retirement Deed carefully as the terms might limit your options.