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David Warburton Singapore, advice, Hong Kong...

With such a busy schedule and heavy workload, it’s no surprise that many corporate lawyers wake up around the 6 or 7 pqe mark and realise they’ve given little attention to their partnership prospects. Sure, they’ve got a great deal sheet, a string of top performance reviews, and a great level of experience, but landing a coveted Partner role usually requires more. Read on for a few points that could be worth considering, regardless of your career stage:

Building a book of business:
Often considered the exclusive preserve of Partners, most firms offer a bonus/commission to Associates and Counsel based on billings linked to work they have originated, in recognition of this being a realistic possibility. We have spoken to several relatively junior lawyers who have received substantial sums for bringing a client to the firm, with whom they connected via a family connection, a business development/networking event, or at a golf club (sometimes the old methods are the best!).

Developing niche expertise:
At an early stage in one’s career, it can be worth considering what skillsets or combination of traits are in short supply, and heading in that direction where possible. This will leave you in a much stronger position in future years, should the demand for profiles such as yours outstrip the supply. We assisted one such individual with a vast amount of LNG experience who landed a ‘Senior Counsel’ role far above market-rate remuneration when the country in question was experiencing a boom in this specific kind of work. It is interesting to note that most of his experience was in-house, which leads to our third point…

​Develop contacts/experience by going in-house:
Lateraling back to private practice having acquired a book of contacts and a network of senior individuals in your chosen sector via an in-house move can make all the difference. If things are looking a little congested at Senior Associate level, or there is an abundance of people with relatively similar profiles to yours all vying for promotion, a year or two in-house could be more valuable than more law firm experience. Individuals with many years of experience in a company, and thus deep knowledge of how it works and the implications this has on legal advice, will be in a strong position to bring that client with them to private practice.

Bringing other skills to the table:
Do you have specific language skills or cross-cultural understanding that relates to a particular country? Did you have previous life in a role that complements your legal position (i.e. a construction lawyer who used to be a structural engineer, or a patent lawyer who used to be a scientist). Taking your career in a direction that complements the skills you already have, rather than rendering them irrelevant, can help you stand out in a competitive market.

These are just a few thoughts on a complex topic, best looked at on a case-by-case basis. To discuss your career aspirations in greater detail, whether you’re 2pqe or 20pqe, we’d be glad to hear from you on +44 203 984 6565 or