MENLO PARK, Calif., Nov. 17, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — Does it take longer than it used to for law firm associates to make partner? Not according to a new survey from Robert Half Legal. Attorneys interviewed said they believe it takes an average of seven years to reach partner status today, down from eight years when the survey was conducted in 2003.
The survey was developed by Robert Half Legal, a premier legal staffing firm specializing in lawyers, paralegals and other highly skilled legal professionals. It was conducted by an independent research firm and includes responses from 175 lawyers at the largest law firms in the United States.
Lawyers were asked, “What would you estimate is the average number of years it takes for an associate to make partner?” The median response was seven years.
“The time it takes to make partner has declined slightly, but competition remains high,” said Charles Volkert, executive director of Robert Half Legal. “Some firms have reduced the number of partner positions, which has prompted associates to seek alternative career options, such as a non-equity partner track or another less traditional path.”
The demographics at a given firm also can impede or hasten an associate’s route to partner, Volkert noted. “If a firm’s most senior partners have postponed retirement, there may be fewer openings for associates,” he said.
Robert Half Legal offered the following advice to lawyers interested in advancing their careers:
Focus on professional development. In addition to legal skills, concentrate on helping the firm improve client service levels and grow revenue.
Align yourself with a mentor or career coach. Find a more senior attorney who can provide advice and guidance, as well as help you identify ways to raise your visibility at the firm.
Immerse yourself in the profession. Become involved in the local chapter of the bar association, do pro bono work, volunteer in the community or contribute to well-regarded legal publications or forums online. All these activities will enhance your professional reputation.
Network consistently. Expand your roster of professional contacts and stay in regular communication with them. The more people you know, the more likely it is that you’ll hear of new opportunities that could help you keep your career on track.
By Tim Spagnola
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