The biannual ABA Women Rainmakers Mid-Career Workshop will take place November 7-8, 2014 at The US Grant hotel in San Diego, California. I will be speaking on a panel entitled “Progressing into Partner–Road Rules,” with an esteemed faculty that includes Rori Goldman of Hill Fulwider, Ali Sylvia of Plews Shadley Racher & Braun and Law Practice Division chair Bob Young of English Lucas Priest & Owsley.
I often remark to people that as a summer associate at Bernstein Shur in Portland, Maine, I quickly realized that my personality and career goals did not equate to a likelihood of becoming a partner at a law firm. It had nothing to do with Bernstein Shur–an excellent firm with outstanding people–but simply the partnership process at firms in general. My philosophy–right or wrong–was that if I was not going to be on a partnership track at a law firm, I’d just as well not be at a law firm at all. I won’t go into whether that thinking was right or wrong, but that was my approach at the time. In retrospect, I still think it was the proper path for me.
Of course, back in the day, most attorneys entered a law firm as summers or first years with the belief or understanding that you would put your head down for 6-10 years and lift it when the partnership committee came a’votin’. That is certainly way different today. As a matter of fact, most would argue that it is the opposite. Most attorneys start “training” at a law firm knowing they would not likely be there for the long haul–whether it is your choosing or the law firm deciding–maybe it is for life/work balance, maybe you seek a different area of practice, decide to relocate, or join a client in-house–the odds of becoming partner are better than a college basketball player making it to the NBA, but not enough for me to place a wager on it in Vegas.