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Making partner and the business of law

I got a promotion. As of Jan. 1, I am officially part of the membership of Bowie & Jensen LLC. I have been elevated to partnership status, elected into the exclusive club.

It is a milestone event for me. There has been little noticeable difference in my daily routine this week, but there has been additional, internal work-related pressure.

On one hand, the method in which I handle cases, clients and myself should not change. A couple of years ago, a senior member of the firm gave me the following advice: “If you want to be a partner, start acting like one.” So I took control of my cases, began to market myself to prospective clients (and therefore market the firm) and took an active role in the business of the firm.

The business of law is something that is not taught in law school, though it should be. Any successful business, including a law firm, runs on the basic tenet that it should bring in more money than it spends. As a young associate in private practice, the tendency is to focus on learning the law, learning the practice of law and hitting your billable hours. There is no concern for where the next file is going to come from or for collection of the hours billed or the expenses of the firm.

Law schools teach the law, but lawyers learn how to run their businesses through on-the-job training. Obviously, there are bankers and accountants and finance people to help out, but it doesn’t fall squarely on their shoulders as it does when you have a vested interest in the business.

Further, as Uncle Ben told Peter Parker, with great power comes great responsibility. In this case, the responsibility involves the firm’s governance, human resource issues, decisions related to office expenses (who knew that a new telephone system costs so much?) and other things that I don’t even know about yet.

Essentially, on top of all of the billable work, there is a lot more non-billable work. I am looking forward to this new year and the new challenges it will present and hope to give Generation J.D. readers a fresh perspective in 2012.

Did anyone else make partner Jan. 1 or in the last few months? Do you feel any different?

3 comments

  1. Congratulations Michael!

  2. Way to go Mike. Congratulations and well deserved.

  3. Congratulations. Now you’ll have to update your profile to match your new status.