Preparing for Partner in a professional firm

The following scenario illustrates one type of client situation I support.


Tony sat back in the chair in his home office and smiled. He’s tweaked the presentation for tomorrow’s Partner Selection umpteen times. It was the culmination of 3 weeks work on the presentation, 3 years work on the achievements and an ambition since he was at school.

The selection day tomorrow was for two partner positions, created by one partner retiring and one partner being eased out.

Times were tough, but there was a buzz about the firm. A new Managing Partner had been brought in 2 years ago who was really shaking things up at the long established regional firm.

As far as Tony knew there were 5 candidates. Himself, Sally, who joined in the same intake as Tony 10 years ago. Steve who joined 2 years after Tony and Sally. Then two outside candidates, one from London who was relocating and one from a rival regional firm.

Tony knew he was well liked within the firm at all levels. His technical skills were in demand. His relationships with clients were extremely good. His previous appraisals were very solid. He had been in partner selection 2 years ago but was unsuccessful. That hurt at the time but he realised it was premature. However, if he didn’t get it this time then the writing was on the wall he felt.

He was fortunate to attend a conference in America last year and pick up some excellent training and tips on practice development. He knew that bringing in new clients was an essential part of a partner role, especially at a firm like his where there was no full-time professional sales resource.

In America the phrase Rainmaker was widely used for senior professionals who have a knack of bringing in clients. Tony was keen to emulate them as he could see the writing on the wall for ‘the old ways’. After all, two partners were on their way out and the Managing Partner had big ambitions and Tony was keen to be part of the future. This was his moment.

Tony reviewed how he’d put into practice the things he’d learnt on that conference, and the results.

  • Client development – he’d ‘saved’ a client that was about to defect to a rival firm. And he’d identified several new opportunities in the client he was working on, not just for his area but also for other areas of the firm.
  • Client attraction – he’d started writing articles on their website and posted on LinkedIn. And he’d been invited to talk at a couple of regional business events on his topic. This had resulted in several enquiries and a couple of new projects.
  • Client Outreach – as work had been a bit patchy Tony had used the time off fees to pick up the phone to some of his previous clients, some who had changed companies. He also had a target list of companies in the region that he was working through to identify inroads.
  • Networking – Tony had also joined a couple of networking groups where his clients and their peers met periodically.

Collectively this had resulted in the firm being invited to pitch for new projects and even to replace an incumbent firm who the client had lost confidence in.

The new managing partner was very supportive of this activity – and had even funded some 1-to-1 mentoring and coaching for Tony.

Tony knew that being a partner carried the responsibilities for growing, leading and feeding his department. With the new skills and mindset he’d developed he was confident that he was equipped for the challenge.

Tony closed his laptop and headed to the lounge to unwind before an early night…..