In addition to talk of bonuses and layoffs, another topic that instills fear in associates is partnership prospects. A couple of weeks ago, we asked you how current partnership prospects at your firm compared to last year, and how your firm treats associates who are passed over for partnership.
Forty-seven percent of respondents report that the chances of making partner are worse than last year, 42% say they are about the same, and 11% indicate that prospects are better.
First, the bad news: the percentage of respondents who say that prospects are worse is significantly larger among the senior associates who are either up for partner or nearing partnership consideration. For example, 66% of the Class of 2002 report that making partner is less likely than last year, as do 58% of the Class of 2003, and 55% of respondents who graduated before 2002 (which may include some current partners). Maybe it’s just the nerves talking, but it could also be that eighth year associates and beyond have a better grasp of reality than, say, Class of 2010 associates.
So what’s the good news?
The good news is that for associates who get passed over for partnership, most firms don’t seem to have a strict up-or-out policy.
- 49% report that their firms deal with each associate on a case-by-case basis.
- 22% report that associates are allowed to stick around indefinitely.
- 19% report that associates are laid off or given 6-12 months to find another job.
- 10% report that associates are considered for partner next year.
So, what are the top reasons for the change in partnership prospects since last year? Respondents who believe that the chances of making partner have gotten worse give several reasons:
- 69% indicate a longer partnership track.
- 67% indicate that partners don’t want to share their dwindling profits with more partners.
- 67% indicate stricter partnership criteria.
- 60% indicate the latest partner class was smaller than the prior year’s class.
- 56% indicate that business is harder to bring in.
- 48% indicate that partners have been pushed out or laid off.
- Also, some indicate that firms have brought in more lateral partner and lateral senior associates.
By contrast, respondents who think that partnership prospects have improved cite the following reasons:
- 44% say there are less associates in their class year to compete with.
- 36% say that the latest partner class was larger than the prior year’s class.
- 20% say there is better training/mentoring.
- Also, some say business is getting better.
How do partnership prospects vary by practice area?
The best news comes from Tax, where 28% of respondents say that partnership prospects are better, 33% say they are about the same, and 39% say they are worse. The worst news comes from Litigation, where 50% of respondents report that partnership prospects are worse, 41% say they are about the same, and 9% say they are better.
If you are currently stuck at a firm where the odds of making partner are close to none, let Lateral Link help you make a lateral move to a firm where partnership is actually an achievable goal. You can find out which firms fit the bill by visiting the Career Center, hosted by Lateral Link.