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partnership - this isn't great right? wwyd?

(7 Posts)
legalbeagles Tue 07-Feb-17 11:36:47

I've worked for my current firm for nearly 10 years.

Historically, the belief was you would only be made partner if you'd held a specific managerial role (basically been head of one of the offices/ depts). I've not had the opportunity to do this, so hadn't applied.

Last year I got wind that a LOT of people who hadn't performed this role had applied. I didn't as I had some personal issues going on at the time and didn't need the extra stress.

Anyway about half those who applied got partnership. All are quite a bit less qualified than me, in some cases have more than a decade less experience.

Anyway I told myself I'd apply this year. Except on enquiring (last year's applications were invited by mid Jan) we've now heard that no arrangements are yet in place and we'll be informed when they are. Which I read as it being likely nothing will actually happen!

I generally like my job, the pay is a little low, but there isn't much in my rather niche area. It has previously been made clear if you're underpaid it's because you negotiated poorly when you joined the firm (once you're in, you only get inflationary pay rises at best, last year I got 1.5%) so I'm never going to catch up in pay terms unless I get partnership, although even then the salaries are shrouded in mystery! I do know though that at least 2 people in a similar role are paid £10-15k more, which grates! Plus others being partners when I feel I should be one too...

I have looked for other jobs, there is very little, as legal reforms are killing off our field. This partnership stuff is just another annoyance...wwyd? Suck it up, and keep plodding on, or is there an alternative?

Allthebestnamesareused Tue 07-Feb-17 11:48:58

At most firms I have worked in and indeed at my husband's firm (where he is a full equity partner) anyone can apply to be made up to partner if they have a business case that supports their application. Generally in the mid-sized regionals I worked at, this would be a business plan to generate approximately £750,000 work (ie. work that the firm would otherwise not get eg. inter-department referrals).

There may be an argument if you are in a niche area that the amount could be lower (if you are able to cross refer other types of work too. However this would not include one off referrals but you'd need to show a pattern of consistently being able to refer say eg. £100K of property work for a number of years).

Nowadays most firms have ironed out the disparity between salaries and eg. a newly qualifid would get £42k, 1year £46K etc. However, if a person is getting more there may be reasons for this eg. they may well have far higher targets than your own, may bill significantly more, may have brought in clients that does allolw them to cross refer work to other departments. Nothing is ever as like for like as we'd like to think it is.

There will always be those who look as though they are doing less work thn you (and some may be but others may well be working out of the office and far longer hours due to the nature of their work).

Rather than focusing of what others have got or done devise your business plan and talk to the partner you report to about how an application from you is likely to be received.

Does your firm still have salaried partnership as a step, or do they have fixed share and equity partners? PM if you'd rather.

Allthebestnamesareused Tue 07-Feb-17 11:53:10

I meant to say that with both of us being solicitors and having between us worked in a number of firms the politics etc are pretty much the same across the board.

However it may be that a fresh start at a new firm will be what you need and a new firm may be more enthusiastic about you as fresh blood than a firm where you have been for 10 years and where you feel overlooked and undervalued.

If they made up a number of people last year their income may not support a further round of partnership promotions this year too.

legalbeagles Tue 07-Feb-17 12:49:09

None of us in our part of the business are in fee earning roles, we don't generate any income. That's the sane for all the people I know who were made up to Partner last year - there are others who do fee earn (and were made Partner) in other parts of the business.

The partnership process has always been pretty rigid, as in a specifically annual event, and until last year I didn't think I fit the criteria. It's frustrating now I know I do, and had I applied I almost certainly would have got it. I am almost 20 years pqe so people that know expect me to be a partner, it's almost awkward saying I'm not.

It is salaried, following which apparently you you can apply for fixed share, but there's very little info available about it all, so I have no idea how much my salary would increase by as a partner. Discussing pay is a disciplinary offence, the only reason I know what some colleagues earn is because they are very indiscreet.

I do think about leaving, but we are so niche I know finding an alternative role will be tricky.

Allthebestnamesareused Tue 07-Feb-17 13:22:05

It is very unusual for someone who is not in a fee earning role to be made up to partner unless they are involved in the management team eg. managing partner or finance director with no fee earning responsibility and I assume from your inital post that must be similar at your firm (as you mention about people having previously been HoD etc).

I don't know of any PSLs for example who are partners. I suppose actually if it is just salaried partnership (ie. in title only and not really a true partner in the sense of profit sharing) then it makes no difference. I have heard of people who are made up to salaried partners with very small rises because, as you state, at a certain time in your career you feel you have earned that status.

I am intrigued now as to what role it is bearing in mind there are a number of you in a niche area.

f they have made others up will the department be too top heavy. Many firms operate a department with say 3 assistants to each partner (on a pyramid) so if there were too many partners with fewer assistants the dynamics wouldn't work.

I would definitely ask to speak to the partner you work for initially and if you seem to be blanked then speak with the Managing Partner. Explain that you were going to apply last year but postponed for personal reasons and although applications have not been invited are you allowed to submit an application anyway.

I would do it now if this is generally the time of year it happens because usually it is, as you say, done at a certain time of year so that the promotion ties in with the start of the next financial year for the partnership.

On another note as a highly paid salaried partner my husband ended up with a "paycut" when he became an equity partner as they join equity on a lockstep basis and he started on 60% of full equity so lower than his actual salary and he had a business loan to fund his share of the capital he was required to put in. In the long term it was obviously financially beneficial but it was a shock to the household funds for a couple of years.

Have you looked at how you would fund any capital contribution required? Also I assume it is an LLP you work for. I am not sure in today's climate I'd want to be a Partner if not an LLP.

I'd be interested to hear what you decide to do and how you get on. Good luck.

legalbeagles Tue 07-Feb-17 13:46:19

Thanks - it is a LLP. I'd be happy with salaried partnership - fixed share is an entirely separate application, and it seems to be only available once you have been a partner for a number of years.

Without outing the firm entirely it's difficult to explain - in essence the area I work in is contracted out (on a very long term contract) to another organisation, we work effectively in house for them. That organisation is billed for all our salaries - hence no fee earning. In terms of size, within our specific area there are about 80-100 people, about 10 of whom are partners. I think making another couple of us up, especially as there is likely to be limited financial impact, isn't unrealistic.

My role is kind of psl, but not really. That said, it's a very similar function to that performed by others who did make partner...

I will try to speak to the partner I work for, who hopefully can help. the managing partner however is based in a separate office several hours away, I've never met him, and I don't think approaching him direct would go down too well.

Allthebestnamesareused Tue 07-Feb-17 14:08:54

I know of firms that in effect contract out HR/Employment/Pensions in that way and also some claims firms. If there are that number of you it is likely that it could sustain another couple of salaried partners. Does the contract come up for renewal soon as it is likely that the amount agreed sustains you all at certain salaries over the period of the contract? If that is coming up for renewal your new partner salary could be factored in. If it is a while off renegotiation they may ise this as an excuse. I don't mean to be a Debbie Downer - just playing devil's advocate so you can address these points in your own mind beforehand should they raise them.

Another thing to consider is will you feel worse if you apply and get turned down rather than simmering but not applying? Realistically can you find similar work elsewhere and at what market rate? Would you consider switching speciality?

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