Making Partner

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OneLisfun
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Making Partner

Postby OneLisfun » Thu Apr 09, 2015 3:51 am

Is there any way to find out roughly what one's chances would be at a given law firm of making partner? I know that, overall, the consensus seems to be about a 10% chance, but I'd like to know if there's a way one could look at different individual firms and find out what the chances are at each firm, or at least get some indication of factors that make certain firms have a higher percentage of associates make partner than others.

So, ideally, if there's a way to make a rough estimate of what percentage of associates make partner at an individual law firm, I'd like to know how I could find that out. If there's really no way to do something as specific as this, as a last resort, I'd like to know what factors one could look into (meaning information the general public could gain access to) at a firm to get the idea that a larger percentage of associates are making partner (for example, maybe the number of partners at the firm versus the overall size of the firm or size of the associate class? Maybe firms that are lower down in the vault rankings have a higher percentage of summer associates become partner than firms higher up? Maybe, just as a general rule, super large firms give a person less of a chance of making partner than smaller big law firms?).

Any insight is greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Anonymous User
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Re: Making Partner

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Apr 09, 2015 9:58 am

The ratio of associates to partners is probably the best indicator if you're comparing firms without any inside knowledge. The closer the ratio is to 1:1, the better your odds are. This generally means that your odds of making partner at the top New York firms are terrible. As far as publicly available information goes, you can easily find out the number of associates and partners at any firm through NALP or by searching the firm's attorney directory, and you will likely be able to find archived partnership promotion announcements (typically around the new year), which will give you a sense for how many people make it each year, from what offices and practice groups, how long it took them (judging by law school graduation year), and so on.

That said, if you're looking to go to a Vault firm in a primary market, you should choose based on fit, practice group interests, etc., rather than partnership prospects. It's impossible to get a true sense for your odds of making partner until after you're at a firm for a couple years, start to specialize and work closely with particular partners, etc. At my firm, for instance, my group has promoted three to partner in the past five years, whereas other teams haven't made anyone partner in several years. It's not too difficult to lateral as a midlevel if things look bleak at your current firm.

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Capitol_Idea
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Re: Making Partner

Postby Capitol_Idea » Thu Apr 09, 2015 10:00 am

What anon upthread said. Another factor to consider is the partnership structure - it's not just 'Associate -> partner' anymore. There can be multiple tiers of partner, including non-equity partners that are really just partners in name only. Not sure how this structure affects your 'chances' of making partner, but it does affect what that outcome actually means.

dixiecupdrinking
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Re: Making Partner

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Thu Apr 09, 2015 12:19 pm

Keep in mind that the proportion of associates promoted to partner is not the same as the odds of making partner. You don't have a 10% shot at it just because 1 in 10 associates got promoted. It's not a lottery.

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Capitol_Idea
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Re: Making Partner

Postby Capitol_Idea » Thu Apr 09, 2015 12:25 pm

dixiecupdrinking wrote:Keep in mind that the proportion of associates promoted to partner is not the same as the odds of making partner. You don't have a 10% shot at it just because 1 in 10 associates got promoted. It's not a lottery.


Ooh good point - some firms heavily promote laterals or bring in partners more than making them from their own class. I think the latter type of firm is increasingly becoming a unicorn.

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DELG
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Re: Making Partner

Postby DELG » Thu Apr 09, 2015 12:27 pm

LOL @ 10%

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Capitol_Idea
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Re: Making Partner

Postby Capitol_Idea » Thu Apr 09, 2015 12:38 pm

DELG wrote:LOL @ 10%

DELG you are a treasure. Make more threads so I can argue at you.

dixiecupdrinking
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Re: Making Partner

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Thu Apr 09, 2015 1:21 pm

zacharus85 wrote:
dixiecupdrinking wrote:Keep in mind that the proportion of associates promoted to partner is not the same as the odds of making partner. You don't have a 10% shot at it just because 1 in 10 associates got promoted. It's not a lottery.


Ooh good point - some firms heavily promote laterals or bring in partners more than making them from their own class. I think the latter type of firm is increasingly becoming a unicorn.

I mean it's not even just that. Some associates are willing and able to do the partner track stuff and some aren't. Some will be favored by the powers that be and some won't.

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Desert Fox
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Re: Making Partner

Postby Desert Fox » Thu Apr 09, 2015 1:29 pm

Firms are firing partners not making them. And most "new partners" at most firms are essentially super senior associates who get paid like associates.

You only have more than a cunt hairs width of a chance at growing elite botiques. And even then, the pay usually isn't like 2 mil a year or whatever people think your partners make.

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Desert Fox
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Re: Making Partner

Postby Desert Fox » Thu Apr 09, 2015 1:30 pm

Desert Fox wrote:Firms are firing partners not making them. And most "new partners" at most firms are essentially super senior associates who get paid like associates.

You only have more than a cunt hairs width of a chance at growing elite botiques. And even then, the pay usually isn't like 2 mil a year or whatever people think your partners make.

You need either a mobile book of business or to have the BEST relationship with an institutional client to have a shot at most firms.

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JohannDeMann
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Re: Making Partner

Postby JohannDeMann » Thu Apr 09, 2015 1:33 pm

zacharus85 wrote:
DELG wrote:LOL @ 10%

DELG you are a treasure. Make more threads so I can argue at you.


A non-equity partner came in here and said his chance of making partner was above average and he'd put it at 15%. 10% is way high. 8 years in your chance is 15% if you're good - Jesus.

Anonymous User
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Re: Making Partner

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Apr 09, 2015 1:36 pm

My firm has a 1:1 ratio. 3 partners were made over the past 4 incoming class years that had probably a total of 60 associates during the years those partners joined the firm. Not including laterals.

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AreJay711
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Re: Making Partner

Postby AreJay711 » Thu Apr 09, 2015 2:07 pm

Most people can make partner if they set their sights low enough. Lots of shitlaw out there.

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rpupkin
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Re: Making Partner

Postby rpupkin » Thu Apr 09, 2015 2:24 pm

In big law, going to a firm with the hope of making partner is like going to a T1 with the hope of transferring to HYS after 1L. Yeah, it happens, but you shouldn't count on it as a realistic option.

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Desert Fox
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Re: Making Partner

Postby Desert Fox » Thu Apr 09, 2015 2:35 pm

I'm pretty sure half the partners I work with would never make partner today.

With the market segmenting I don't see how any of us ever gets a client willing to pay biglaw rates.

Nomo
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Re: Making Partner

Postby Nomo » Thu Apr 09, 2015 2:51 pm

A lot of firms will put an article on their website naming all of their new partners. Look up the new partners' bios for the particular office you're considering. See if they are homegrown, if they lateraled as an associate, or if they were plucked as a lateral partner from another firm. You probably aren't interested in the last category. Figuring out the original class size for homegrown partners is hard, but you can generally assume their class sizes were larger than today's class sizes.

You should also assume that these new partners are non-equity partners. I think NALP will give you a sense of how many equity and nonequity partners a firm has. Looking at those numbers will tell you if making equity partner is a serious possibility.

Lawyerrr
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Re: Making Partner

Postby Lawyerrr » Thu Apr 09, 2015 6:53 pm

What law firm you start at matters, to some extent. If you do six years at Cravath, a lot of "lower-ranked" firms in need of senior associates will want to hire you and will tell you that you're on a partnership track--not guaranteed but a better chance than your average joe. So even if you have a 2% chance of making partner at Cravath, you have a better chance of making partner elsewhere than most people.

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SemperLegal
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Re: Making Partner

Postby SemperLegal » Thu Apr 09, 2015 7:22 pm

Second hand, even making equity partner isn't quite winning the "partner" lottery. There's only a smaller subset of partners who actually make millions and have enough heft with the firm to enjoy the benefits of management. That is not to say that being a partner isn't appreciably different, and generally preferable, but not all equity is equal.

TL;DR: Equity Partner =/= End of corporate ladder

Cogburn87
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Re: Making Partner

Postby Cogburn87 » Thu Apr 09, 2015 7:58 pm

Lawyerrr wrote:What law firm you start at matters, to some extent. If you do six years at Cravath, a lot of "lower-ranked" firms in need of senior associates will want to hire you and will tell you that you're on a partnership track--not guaranteed but a better chance than your average joe. So even if you have a 2% chance of making partner at Cravath, you have a better chance of making partner elsewhere than most people.


At least for shitigation, it probably works better the other way around, actually. Start your career at Derp & Turdlinger LLP doing something specialized where you can actually make partner, then hope you merge with a larger firm.

Just look at some of the scandalously unpreftigious profiles of partners at vault firms in areas like products liability and white collar. 30 years ago most biglaw firms wouldn't touch those kinds of work, then they scrambled to gobble up little firms when they realized there was actual money to be made.

OneLisfun
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Re: Making Partner

Postby OneLisfun » Fri Apr 10, 2015 6:32 am

Thanks for all the info. Apparently a non-equity partner at Skadden and comparable firms gets around a mil a year. I don't see too much to complain about as far as partners being made non-equity partners at firms like this, but the rest of the points are definitely things I will take into consideration. Also, maybe at lower ranked vault firms, the number is small enough to be concerned. Thanks.

Lawyerrr
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Re: Making Partner

Postby Lawyerrr » Fri Apr 10, 2015 10:10 am

OneLisfun wrote:Thanks for all the info. Apparently a non-equity partner at Skadden and comparable firms gets around a mil a year. I don't see too much to complain about as far as partners being made non-equity partners at firms like this, but the rest of the points are definitely things I will take into consideration. Also, maybe at lower ranked vault firms, the number is small enough to be concerned. Thanks.


Just an FYI - Skadden doesn't have non-equity partners.

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Desert Fox
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Re: Making Partner

Postby Desert Fox » Fri Apr 10, 2015 10:21 am

One million is way too high for nonequity. The average equity partner at a v50 won't even get that.

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JohannDeMann
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Re: Making Partner

Postby JohannDeMann » Fri Apr 10, 2015 10:39 am

Desert Fox wrote:One million is way too high for nonequity. The average equity partner at a v50 won't even get that.


Yep. The non-equity partner that came on this board from a V10 implied his salary was below $500k but he made a significant bonus. It was obvious he made less than $1 million a year as a non-equity partner and probably more in the ball park of $650k.

Anonymous User
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Re: Making Partner

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Apr 10, 2015 11:37 am

FYI - the range of salary for non-equity partner is dramatic. A Kirkland seventh year "partner" (LOL) likely is making under $400k. A senior non-equity service partner in a profitable group at a typical NY firm might be making $1M. I am 100% certain of that top number, since that's what my brother makes at a non-equity partner at a big NY firm.

That being said, my experience is that if you want to be a partner at a decent NY firm, and you start at one of the 'prestigious' places, its reasonably achievable. Say a 50/50 shot. But (a) most people don't WANT to become a partner after they realize what it entails and (b) you're not likely to make partner where you started, you'll have to drop down to a lower firm on the food chain. The real question is not whether you can make partner or not, but are you OK being a partner at a weaker, EWYK firm, where you're going to have to hustle like Minnesota Fats to make a living.

KidStuddi
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Re: Making Partner

Postby KidStuddi » Fri Apr 10, 2015 11:46 am

JohannDeMann wrote:
Desert Fox wrote:One million is way too high for nonequity. The average equity partner at a v50 won't even get that.


Yep. The non-equity partner that came on this board from a V10 implied his salary was below $500k but he made a significant bonus. It was obvious he made less than $1 million a year as a non-equity partner and probably more in the ball park of $650k.


My understanding is that it varies greatly, even within firms. Compensation for a non-equity partner (or whatever the equivalent title is for the rung between senior associate and partner is for a given firm) isn't lockstep and it's going to vary a lot based on experience. I mean, a lateral from DOJ with 15 years of trial experience might come in as a non-equity partner for 1-2 years, but everyone knows he/she is going to make partner assuming they prove they can generate business. That kind of non-equity partner is worlds apart from an 8th year associate who's got a niche skill the firm doesn't want to lose but isn't partnership material, and their paychecks will reflect it.

The DOJ guy is almost certainly getting >1M at a V10 (or equivalently profitable firm), even as a non-equity lateral. The 8th year associate who's getting taken off lockstep is going to get a nice little boost, but I'd think 1.5x-2x of the top of the associate pay scale is probably the limit there.




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