January 17, 2005

On Making Partner

Yeah, you read the title of this post correctly. I'm a 2L and I'm going to write about making partner. Or rather, I'm going to write about how annoying it is to listen to people with my level of experience or less talk about making partner. People shun it as a goal not worth pursuing because "you have to sell your soul." If you ask them where they got this idea, it's very rare that they sat down with a partner and discussed their life with them. Most of it is myth and conjecture.

Other people discuss making partner as an inevitable result in X number of years (never mind that they haven't even sat for the bar) because "I'm competitive and it's my goal." And, what's most shocking to me, people in this camp choose the firms where they will go work after school based on whether the "partner track" is 5 years, 7 years, or 10 years. They discuss the longer partner tracks as serious drawbacks.

Wait a minute, people!

Most of you are 25 years old and have never had a real job. You have no idea what your work style is right now, much less what it'll be like in 5, 7, or 10 years. If you were a part-owner of a business that you had built from the ground up, would you want to let a newly minted employee put in 5 years of work and then join your partnership, despite the fact that it took 3-4 years to figure out if he was a good employee in the first place? Would you want to be liable for his actions?

In no other field (except perhaps medicine, where you've put in at least a decade of hazing) can you join a company with the express intention of becoming one of the owners. But many of my fellow students see it as their only purpose. It makes me sad.

So, I've got a novel proposition. Why not focus just a little bit on the present? How 'bout some short-term goal setting? How 'bout living somewhere else than in the dreams of millions of dollars and prestige that can't possibly arrive for at least 7 years.

Most partners probably envy you your life right now. So, sit back, enjoy it and stop trying to control the future. Chances are, if you are dilligent, it'll work out the way you want it to. But, if everything you want isn't in the present, you're probably not too happy, and that, my friends, is actually something you can control.

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