Life as a Law Firm Partner: It's Not All Glory and Good Times

By Jonathan R. Tung, Esq. on August 22, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

It's the undeniable goal of most lawyers to see his or her name affixed within the firm name. Who doesn't want to be partner? The ego, the prestige, the salary -- and of course, perks!

As it turns out, being a partner isn't desirable for everyone. Partners don't necessarily live the blessed lives young lawyers imagine. Also, there are good reasons to believe that the traditional partner-track model for lawyers may soon be a thing of the past.

Not All It's Cracked Up to Be

Consider the partner experience of Allison Peryea, a lawyer who recently became partner at the firm of Leahy Fealstad Peryea (a name she describes as "unpronounceable"). Unlike many other young lawyers, she did not salivate at the idea of becoming partner. You'd probably balk at her description of "too busy trying not to lose [her] job to care much about [getting offered partnership]."

In Allison Peryea's case, partnership in her small firm was as much about division of labor as it was about business -- maybe even more so. One of her first tasks for the firm apparently was to acquire new furniture. Other tasks included working with an IT guy to set up new computers for the firm. So, in her case, making partner did not shield her from the mundane. Is this the sort of picture you think about when you think "partner"?

Additionally, like other partner experiences, the work load did not taper off. If anything, it appears to have gotten heavier in the 13 months she's been named owner. She still has to practice law, you know. And we're sure that a bunch of you forgot that. You were too busy fantasizing about city vista scenes from a corner office.

Realistic Partner Experiences

Now, we're sure that being named partner at some firms is an experience right out of GQ, filled with exotic cars, exotic places, and even more exotic expense accounts. But we're also sure that that sort of partner experience is reserved only for the few. As you embark on your legal career path, it's best to maintain realistic expectations about the whole partnership thing.

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