You’re Not Going to Be a Big Law Partner…Now What?

By Stephen Furnari - October 20, 2014
You’re Not Going to Be a Big Law Partner…Now What?

Career transition expert, Greg Yates offers a 4-step process to evaluate career options once you realize equity partnership will not be viable in Big Law.

You’ve just come to the realization, whether on your own because you were advised as such, that an equity partnership in the Big Law firm you are currently working for will not be in the cards for you.

Though intellectually you know that you are among the vast majority of Big Law attorneys, still, it doesn’t take the sting out of the news.

big lawIn all likelihood, your singular focus towards that goal (or simply keeping your head above water in the context of Big Law practice, may initially prevent you from seeing this news as an opportunity. We see this frequently at Law Firm Suites where attorneys leave Big Law firms (for a variety of reasons) to start their own practices.

Once these attorneys get past the initial shock that this is not a viable career path, the vast majority of those that chose self-employment thrive. We suspect the same is true for those who choose in-house career options or career paths outside the law.

In a recent article, Greg Yates, a consultant who helps attorneys transition their careers out of Big Law practice, offers a four-step process for assessing your initial career prospects post Big Law:

1. Take a Good Hard Look at Yourself

big law According to Greg Yates, any attorney dealing with this situation should begin by examining some personal factors. One of the most important things to evaluate is your personal passion level. Maybe you went to law school just because it seemed like “the right thing to do.” Perhaps you found yourself pushed into the profession by a combination of social pressures and the growing need to pay school debt.

Looking at the opportunities that Big Law partnership affords proves to be an enticing thing. The higher up you go, the more opportunities open up. You may even have the skill level and the passion needed to be a partner. But unfortunately, these days, that just doesn’t cut it. It may be time to face the fact that you will never be a Big Law equity partner.

2. Figure Out Your “End Game”

big law Of course, there are economic factors to consider. Begin by performing an honest, in-depth analysis of your health, relationships, and finances. While doing this, says Yates, it’s hugely important to put aside any judgmental thoughts about yourself. Look at yourself and envision your dream career and life. This is where you come up with the most ideal life possible. Do you want your own practice, or do you want to partner with an existing firm? Ask yourself questions and keep an open mind.

3. Set Goals and Take Steps

big law Got an idea of where you want to be? Great, now actually take steps toward repurposing your life and career. Come up with a plan of specific, measurable, and attainable goals that will get you closer to your goal. As you take steps on this new path, these actions will soon become highly successful habits.

Of course, some of your efforts need to go towards your own physical and mental health. Get enough sleep, eat good nutritious food, focus on fitness, and don’t forget to have some fun!

4. Constantly Evaluate Your Progress

big law Finally, you must continuously evaluate your life and career. You may be taking intentional steps, but are you sure they are the correct steps?

Don’t get so committed to an idea or pathway that you can’t shift gears when needed. Take stock of what is working and what is not. Cut out the ineffective and continue with what is working.  This process of constant evaluation and improvement will optimize your life and career and rocket you ahead of your peers.

Just remember, a career in the law is a marathon, not a sprint, and attorneys will need to reinvent themselves, perhaps several times, over the course of their law career.  Being able to adapt to changes using these skills will become invaluable to you over time.

 Get our eBook: “Virtual Lawyers Dish: Strategies for Success.”

About Stephen Furnari

Stephen Furnari is a self-employed corporate attorney and the founder of Law Firm Suites, the operator of coworking spaces for law firms. Through Law Firm Suites, Furnari has helped hundreds of attorneys launch and grow successful law practices. He is the author of several eBooks, including “7 Deadly Mistakes that Prevent Law Practice Success” and “An Insider’s Guide to Renting the Perfect Law Office”. Stephen has been featured in the ABA Journal, Entrepreneur, New York Daily News and Crain’s New York. Connect with Stephen on Twitter (@stephenfurnari).

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