Why I don’t want to become a partner

By on

Yes I’m a City lawyer, but the gruelling hours just aren’t for me

Once upon a time, the dizzying heights of partnership were what law students, trainees and associates all desperately aspired to reach. Who could blame them? The prestige, the power, plus the long, lavish, boozy client lunches (taken while your assistants stay behind at the office grafting).

It remains a widely-held assumption that every young lawyer naturally wants to reach those dizzying heights, yet it’s becoming increasingly apparent that the career aspirations of today’s young lawyers differ quite substantially from the goals of their forebears.

For many, slaving away over mundane tasks — regardless of the return of a high salary, expensive material possessions and status — just isn’t what life is all about. More and more millennials value work-life balance and achieving career satisfaction through doing something that matters above high pay and promotion. They want to feel like they matter, not that they’re selling their soul. What’s more, with an expansion in education in recent decades increasing the talent pool of bright and gifted lawyers and with clients getting more sophisticated and more demanding, a trainee qualifying in 2017 wanting to make partner really does have the odds stacked against them.

As a junior associate at a City law firm, I look at many of the partners who give me work and know instantly that their life is simply not for me.

The stress, the gruelling hours, the ultimate responsibility for mistakes made by your juniors (however skilled they are), the ultimate accountability before the courts or disciplinary bodies. I know that if I were ever given the nod and trusted with the keys to the partners’ dining room, I would be constantly anxious that I wouldn’t be able to bring in the big bucks that I’d persuaded my firm I could. And if I wanted to make a shedload of money, why would I give my life and soul to a law firm when I could get paid far more at a bank or a hedge fund for the same stomach-churning stress?

As the years go on, law firms wanting to retain the best talent will do well to remember that dangling the prospect of partnership won’t be enough to make their talented junior staff go to hell and back in their name like it once was. If they’re sensible, they’ll think of innovative ways to attract and motivate this generation of lawyers so they take full (yet fair) advantage of their talents.

But for those bright juniors who are currently starting out but for whom the burdens of partnership do not appeal: what then? What are their options?

1. A consultant/‘of counsel’ role

There’s already some evidence to suggest firms won’t simply kick an old hand to the kerb if they don’t want to become a partner. Striking a deal with your firm under which you’re treated and remunerated better than the average associate and given the swanky title of “consultant” or “of counsel” on your email signature can be quite appealing and is definitely worth considering.

2. Becoming a professional support lawyer

The technical brains of the average law firm department, these learned bookworms can often be lifesavers for junior lawyers who are not being supervised and who have no idea what they’re doing. Operating away from the frontline might prove frustrating for those who thrive on the cut-and-thrust of clients and deal-doing, but being the hub of knowledge and (in many cases) training within a department might appeal to those who get a buzz from all things academic.

3. Go in-house

Looked at wistfully among many private practice lawyers as a realm where colleagues and clients are nice, you get to leave at 5pm and there are no timesheets, there are few private practice lawyers who have not considered the prospect of moving in-house at least at some point in their careers. For the lawyers particularly keen to give something back or to find meaning in their work, working in-house for charities or for the Government Legal Service shouldn’t be overlooked.

4. Downsize

You might be holding out for your firm to offer you an attractive of counsel or consultant role. But like many such requests, you might only receive wishy-washy non-committal replies from your superiors. If so, it might be worth either moving to another firm more receptive to the fact that you and others may not want to become a partner or even moving to a smaller firm which doesn’t place so much emphasis on rising to the top. Your firm may have conditioned you to believe that leaving before becoming a partner is a fate worse than death. But go boldly forth and who knows what you might find.

5. Leave law for an alternative career

You might not believe me when I say it, but there is a vast multitude of possible alternative careers out there just waiting for someone with your skills and expertise. It’s your life and if the law is no longer giving you what you truly desire, you owe it to yourself to break free and go and do what you truly love.

Unnamed Lawyer is a non-law graduate from a Russell Group university, who crossed over to the dark side and converted to law. He is now an associate in the commercial property department of a City law firm.

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Would be so good to be of counsel. £200k a year, far less stress, more stability. Can still afford that Aston you’ve always wanted.






You knob.



People who buy expensive cars are vaguely pathetic.


Scep Tick

Probably talking about Villa. They’ll be worth a grand in a year’s time.





Yankee Doodle

This is a rare example of a sensible LC article. Obviously you can bet your bottom pocket dollar that within hours (minutes even) the abuse will start to flow and the author will be told he’s a ‘beta cuck’, ‘weakling’ or to ‘F*ck off from law then’, in no particular order.

However, the lad made some very decent points and being an associate in an MC firm myself, his points are entirely valid. Sadly too many people joining this profession have already drunk all the koolaid and can’t think outside the ‘partnership or bust’ box.



Excellent article. Many thanks for your time and effort writing this.

In terms of going in house, when you qualify into financial services or capital markets, your natural place to go inhouse is a bank. What are ones opportunities when one qualifies into Corporate M&A, in terms of inhouse roles? What sort of business wants / needs transactional corporate lawyers in their inhouse team?



Corporate M&A lawyers have endless options in-house. Naturally, the energy sector is a popular choice. The sheer volume and value of M&A going on within the sector creates high demand for “top” quality candidates. They pay on a par with most firms too.

Alternatively, there are often roles within large construction, real estate and retail businesses.

Major consumer goods businesses, ABinBev and the likes, often have significant corporate teams.

The other option is moving into a more commercial role. A lot of hiring managers accept that demand for commercial lawyers is extremely high, giving candidates multiple options, so they will consider corporate candidates with good drafting experience for more commercial roles.



Very informative – thank you for your reply!



Work to live, don’t live to work. Money is fine but if you don’t have a life to actually enjoy it, what is the point? There is a balance to be struck and I say that as one who learnt that only when I was approaching 30 years of age..



To young people just starting out, I advise the following.

It’s all fashionable and fuzzy and rainbows to tell young people that a ‘work-life balance’ is key. People who leave the office at 5pm would have you believe that they are in some way ‘winning’.

But if you really want to make sure you’re making the right decisions when it comes to your career, simply ask yourself the following. What would you do if you won the lottery tomorrow?

A typical top-earning commercial silk would not retire if he suddenly received a £2m windfall. Why? Because that’s no more than a year’s salary to him. Clearly, whatever he gets from his job, it’s not just the money. He doesn’t need the money. He could retire today with more money than he could ever need. And yet he doesn’t. He keeps going. His career means something to him.

On the other hand, I hazard a guess that the typical mid-level solicitor in the City who chose to pursue a ‘balanced’ lifestyle and leave the office at 5pm every day is exactly the sort of person who WOULD retire if they suddenly won the lottery.

Therefore, ask yourself this. Which of those two is ‘winning’, and which of those is simply doing it for the money?

It doesn’t matter what ladder you’re climbing, but whatever it is – solicitor, barrister, teacher, pilot, actor – make sure that you want to reach the top. As I say below, if you’re happy to stop half-way, you’re on the wrong ladder.


Arnold Schwarzenegger

“You can’t climb da laddah of success with your hands in your pockets.”



The “top” brings different types of responsibilities. Some people don’t enjoy those responsibilities so it doesn’t make sense to aim for the top. It doesn’t mean they are on the wrong ladder, it just means they have already reached their “top” of that specific one but might find another ladder to climb that’s more rewarding.

Plus sometimes you have to climb a specific ladder even if you’re not aiming for the top of it, to reach another. In the article, 1, 2 and 3 would be much more difficult to achieve if you hadn’t qualified as a lawyer and gained experience in private practice.



Your first argument is saying exactly what I said. If your “top” is half-way up the ladder, you should find a different ladder which is more rewarding.

Your second argument is ok in principle, but it’s completely at odds with the theme of the article. The article isn’t styled as ‘So you want a career as an in-house lawyer? This is how you go about it.’ Rather, it’s quite clearly styled as ‘So, you’re working in a City firm and you’ve realised that partnership isn’t for you? Here are some alternative options for you to consider, including leaving law for an alternative career altogether’.



People are allowed to change their minds.


Of course they are. Where have I said anything which suggests otherwise?

The point I’m trying to get across is very simple. If you feel the need to ‘balance’ your job by leaving at 5pm, at heart you probably don’t really enjoy your job.

Likewise, regardless of what people might say about money not being everything, if you’d quit your job upon winning the lottery, you’re clearly getting little out of your job besides money.


Some people don’t prioritise money or their job. It’s not because they don’t like those things, it’s just they have more important things, and therefore they are happy to compromise on work.

You just come across as very tunnel visioned. Not everyone cares about in reaching the top or the money that may bring in the same way you do.


The reason not everyone cares about reaching the top is that not everyone is in the right career.

Everyone has something important in their life besides their career. However, some people take importance not just from their life outside of work, but also from their career itself. It is these people – the people who would not quit their job upon winning the lottery – who know the true meaning of balance.


You are seriously deluded. Not everyone is able to get into their dream career, they have to settle on a realistic career. For those who know they can only get into a realistic career, there is nothing wrong with prioritising other things in life. Work to live rather than live to work and all that.


Well what do you mean by ‘dream career’? Obviously not everyone can get their fantasy career – e.g. astronaut, movie star, F1 driver. In that respect, the clue is very much in the name.

However, everyone can find a job which they enjoy enough to not want to quit the moment they win the lottery.

I think the problem with your stance is very much apparent from the phrase you use, ‘Work to live’. If you’re only working to support your lifestyle outside of work, you’re sacrificing half of your life. Find a job you love and enjoy, which has purpose, and in which you are motivated to succeed and excel.


Yep – still seriously deluded. Not everyone can find a job they wouldn’t give up even with a lottery win. Some of those jobs either don’t pay enough to “live” and are therefore not an option, or others may need investment of time/money to allow it to happen. This isn’t always freely available depending on individual circumstances, and so people settle for a job they can do and that fits in with their lifestyle and commitments outside of work.

I have a job I love thanks to being self-employed. But I don’t feel the need to over-sacrifice my time to over succeed in it. I could work more hours and earn more, but why do I need to when my work gives me exactly what I need, both mentally and financially, and I get to work fewer hours and enjoy life outside of work.


Bublebee’s comment is brilliant. Forget the careers service, just give this to most wannabe lawyers!



I’m criminal counsel, earn a pittance (relative to other areas of law) but I love it and would still do the job even if I had a massive lottery win.



In which case, you are winning.



There are no timesheets in-house? Not sure i agree with that…



I have yet to have a client who has their lawyers fill in time sheets. Who would they be billing??



I work in house at one of the banks, and (sadly) we have to complete time sheets – they recharge our time internally.

They also use them at appraisal time to identify who we work most with.



I also work in-house in a construction company, and have previously worked in a ‘top’ manufacturing business, both require timesheets to be completed in order for recharging and appraisal purposes.



LegalRec – pretty much all businesses require timesheets to be completed so that they can understand where resources are being spent and where costs are being accrued. Businesses can subsequently plan ahead based on this information and, likely, recruit based on this (and other factors) as it feeds into the number of roles and hours offered as well as ensures that staff are accounting for their time/ value added…



Very useful to know. Thanks.
I have never come across this with my clients.


Not Amused

Law firms are pyramid business models. That means that the majority of people taken in at the bottom layer (NQ), cannot go on to reach the top layer of Equity Partner.

Young lawyers and young aspirant lawyers would do well to read articles like the one above. It is all too easy (I do the same) to think we must move on from achievement to achievement – but life does not have to be like that.

Ultimately life is just a period of twiddling your thumbs followed by some occasional decision making. Everyone should be free to make their own decisions – that includes giving ourselves the freedom to question our own long held assumptions.



If you don’t want to reach the top of the ladder you’re climbing, you’re clearly on the wrong ladder. Advising people to stop half way up is, in my view, simply poor advice.

And as for a good work-life balance, let me let you into a secret. A good work-life balance is when you fucking love your work and fucking love your life. If you balance your work and life like one might mix a whiskey and coke, you’re onto a good thing.

If, however, you juggle your life and work like one might dilute Ribena with water, you’re doing it wrong.



Don’t you just love when second year LLB students give you career advice? Get back to revising mate, exams ain’t over yet.



I’m a first year actually.



This is bizarre. That’s the third time in two days someone has used my username to make a poor joke.


Suggestion for Alex

I think Alex needs to upgrade the site, to allow people to associate their names with their email addresses, and password protect our accounts; like of most decent sites.


All I took from your comment is that you have a strong prospect of kidney stones in the mid-to-far future.



I would never take career advice from someone who believes it’s acceptable to dilute whiskey with coke. Unless you drink shit whiskey, in which case your opinion is even more invalid.



Well, in one sense you’ve inadvertently highlighted the beauty in the analogy. When viewed in isolation, whiskey is a good drink and there is no NEED to ‘balance it’ with something else.

However, to continue through with the analogy, you seem to be saying either (i) one should choose a lifestyle which one enjoys so much that one simply doesn’t want to dilute it with a meaningful career, or else (ii) one should choose a job which one enjoys so much that one simply doesn’t want to dilute it with a fun life outside of work. I see, therefore, that you subscribe to the Kim Kardashian / professional video-gamer school of thought.

Or perhaps not. Perhaps you didn’t really understand the analogy. Perhaps you just wanted to let people to know that you drink single malt scotch, and in your view people who drink single malt scotch are much better than people who drink whiskey and coke. You strike me as a really fun person. Do you also get upset and write letters when the sign above the supermarket checkout says ’10 items or less’?



To be honest, I actually agree with some of your points. I was just being an arsehole and like whiskey.



Although I caveat my last point by saying I’m disappointed in your “I bet you’re fun” style retort.

“You have a differing opinion from mine, therefore you are unable to have fun” is a weak argument usually employed by low IQ individuals without the cognitive ability to accept that opinions are subjective and not everyone will agree with them.

For some reason, I genuinely expected better from you. That is my failing though and I accept that.



Woah! Hold on, hold on, hold on…

You were the one who said my opinion was ‘invalid’ if I drink whiskey with coke!
I wasn’t saying, ‘if you have a different opinion to me, you can’t be fun’.


Ha, touché, although I actually said I wouldn’t take career advice off you if you thought it was ok to dilute whiskey with coke, not that your opinion was invalid.

Your opinion was only invalid if you drank shit whiskey.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have letters to write to supermarkets.



Travelling Gavel

And there you have undone your entire argument…

“single malt scotch”

It is either single malt whiskey or scotch (blended) whiskey…

Are you even old enough to drink?

In all other aspects agree completely with the argument; 10 years of timesheet servitude in private practice now 2 years into freelance PSL and it is the best thing I ever did. Sat in my home office, overlooking the garden with the dog sat at my feet.



1. You misspelled whisky

2. Scotch refers to both single malt and blended whisky

Ironic coming from a PSL – not sure I’ll be using your services.


And here’s some authority for my correction from Regulation 3 of the Scotch Whisky Regulations 2009:


Original Whiskey Commenter

Absolutely right; whisky/whiskey is a regional differentiator.

Whisky = Scotch
Whiskey = Irish

Reference to scotch should therefore be whisky. However, both scotch and Irish can be blended or single malt. Both can also be equally delicious.

Sozzled of counsel

Either way, if you’re drinking whisky/whiskey regularly at your age, you’re storing troubles up for the future.


This kind of comment can only come from someone who hasn’t got a clue about the realities of working in any type of law firm, or a psychopath who was one of those who wanted to be a partner in a law firm from the time they learnt to walk and talk.



The first one. I’ve never worked in a law firm.



I also love the cock.



Impressive, very nice.



So I’ve been told 😘


You won’t think like this once you get out of your twenties Gordon



Completely agree – the change in attitudes is obvious.

I was a London-slave and felt the same way. It’s just too brutal. Made me want to pack it all in. I ended up moving to Jersey – nice life balance, good money, sunny beaches. Plus I’m still on track to be a Partner. You can get the change you’re after without changing your path, just have to look around



This is something that appeals to me – just wondering what kind of opportunities there are in Jersey? Is it a lot of investment funds/private equity stuff?




Enormous amount of Investment funds work (which is what I’m currently in – coming from Corporate). It’s a huge industry here and growing pretty much daily, so a good one to get into with the right firm. I like it because it’s so varied. Lots of private equity, real estate, and hedge. Not so much of the retail fund work, at least from my perspective, but I’m okay with that.

To be honest, though, it’s very diverse across the board. Almost too much to fit into a message. Have a look at the websites of Carey Olsen, Mourant Ozannes, or Ogier and you’ll get a pretty good idea. One of them is my firm but together they fill out the top three on-island.

I got my role direct. Which was a bit of a pain. Worth it but a pain. There is a local legal recruiter here now, that my firm work with, who could probably give you more info on the opportunities out there. They’re called Maven Partners.



Thanks again!



There’s plenty of litigation work too.



Don’t be fooled, I work in-house and I can’t remember the last time I left at 5pm.

More annoying is the daily timesheet that I am obligated to complete. The impetus behind it so they say is to ascertain whether a particular part of the business needs specific training/ whether there’s a gap in knowledge but it’s universally agreed that excuse is bullshit; they want the lawyers to make sure we bill 8.5 hours minimum of ‘chargable work’.

My friends in-house isn’t all that’s its cracked up to be.



What sector do you work in?



I currently work in a commercial role within the manufacturing industry but the crap hours and timesheets were the same when I worked in the pharmaceutical, construction and FMCG industries. The only in-house role I didn’t have to complete timesheets and left on time was the charitable industry, but the pay was atrocious.

But the above is only from my personal experience.



Q. Could you have all the benefits (praise, salary, power etc) of a Partner but still being a Senior Associate? Being an expert in your field, the “go-to” for all knowledge of your sector and years of experience, have the accolades of a Partner but still want to be a Senior Associate? Is that a possibility?



That’s what the ‘counsel’ role is.



I heard the ‘counsel’ role is for those who have the years of a partner but fail to do the extra things that bring clients and benefit business development…
And they’re snubbed for it.

That’s from the MC. Someone, correct me if I’m wrong.



Given the very slim partnership prospects, it never ceases to amaze me how people are willing to stay for years and work for these midsize and silver circle city firms with mediocre salaries. Many of these deluded souls think and say they’re working towards partnership. “They told me/us” seems to be the catch phrase here.

If money is your thing (I certainly did not get into this business because of my passion for law and romantic ideas about wise old judges or for the pleasure of working with other lawyers), why would you not, as a young associate, just leave on NQ, for a US firm?

It’s the certainty of top compensation in the market at an American firm VS mediocre pay, corporate newspeak about better hours and culture, vague bullshit promises about partnership prospects at your current English firm.



Yes haha, they do tell you these horrible things about US firms because they want you to stay and work for them.



I think most lawyers working at sub-MC levels (whether in London or regional offices) would work at US firms, and do apply. It’s just the competition is so intense you are unlikely to get a look in ahead of the MC lawyers. Why hire an NQ from one of the ‘big’ Scottish firms, when you can have a Slaughters NQ?



because the Slaughters NQ has been bundling in his litigation seat, and has jack shite substantive experience? Have they managed the disclosure process for an entire case from start to finish?






So. Much. Bitterness.


someone who is almost all of the listed

the best way to make partner at a MC firm perhaps is to tick all the diversity boxes, female, Asian, first in your family to attend uni, disabled, LGBTQ, not from RG uni

c’mon what else can we add to this impressive list


Kuzka's Mother

I left my financial services firm about a year ago and now work in-house at a fiduciary services provider.

Pay is roughly the same, work is a tad more boring, stress and hours are far lower. I do occasionally miss the action of working in a firm and never set foot in court anymore (which can be seen as a plus, depending on the person), but my life is much better now, absolutely no doubts about it.



In many ways this is a useful article for some, but I think it’s generally a bit poor.

There’s a incorrect conflation between being a trainee/junior and then being a partner in the earlier paragraphs, and para 5 is a series of very high level generalisations of which everyone and their dog is aware e.g. long hours. All trainees and juniors know they almost certainly won’t make partner at their current shop, but this article pretends to be about partnership. And the writer doesn’t know anything about it. If you’re a senior associate trying or deciding not to get made up, that’s one thing. And an account from a partner themselves would be more useful. But a very junior cog peeking into a partner’s office doesn’t have anything useful to say on the subject.

The reality is partners, unlike juniors, generally like what they do, although that may be self-selecting.

Everybody has their own path, and I know of people who work very hard in PP but love what they do. Others find it tolerable and just want to pay off their mortgage. It also depends very much on the particular firm, the culture, the people you work with and for, the department you’re in (I personally never would have qualified into commercial property because it’s dull as ditchwater), your particular hours, the unpredictability of those hours, any flexible working and overall compensation. Like all organisations.

In terms of exit options, again quite poor. Everyone knows you can go in-house. Option 5 is simply wrong. “there is a vast multitude of possible alternative careers out there just waiting” – it’s “there are”, and name one. You can’t because there isn’t. There are downsides about the profession, and this is one of them. The exits options are poor. You have to go back down to the bottom and start again. You can’t make a shift to another career path easily at all. You just don’t have the relevant the experience to go into anything else, and relative to your age, you have limited or no managerial experience at all because you worked in a law firm.

A rather obvious exit option from City law not mentioned is moving offshore.

There’s also contract work and going part-time while you try to do something else. I know a guy who is trying this and is an aspiring property developer. The point there being you can’t easily go and work for someone else, but you can always try to set up your own business.



The exit options is one of the big myths regarding the legal profession. It’s sold to you that it opens a lot of doors, but in reality you become almost unemployable in any role other than legal or quasi-legal (eg contracts advisor etc.) jobs; unless, as you say, you are willing to enter at the bottom and start over. I have worked in-house, and seen my accounting colleagues move from the accounts team, to the in-house M&A team, doing corporate finance/valuation etc., to the Tax team, to the Internal Audit team, to Business Development, to Commercial/General Management, and then on to executive leadership roles. Us lawyers rarely get a look in to those roles, due to our inability to speak the language of business, and our role as advisors, rather than strategic thinkers and decision-makers.



This just isn’t true. It’s entirely a matter of attitude. If you have such a low opinion of your abilities then yes, you probably won’t have many other places to go other than your credit hire boiler room. The general public has a high opinion of lawyers. Learn to sell yourself properly and you can go anywhere



Absolutely is true re what both anon say above. Lawyers get pegged as risk adverse technical specialists within businesses, and that’s the reality of it. There are always exceptions which prove the rule, but the rule is lawyers stay lawyers. The fact you refer to the general public having a high opinion of lawyers (which is debatable) demonstrates you have no idea what you’re talking about. It’s not about the general public, it’s about businesses making business decisions related to specific relevant experience for a particular job role. If you’ve been an analyst at a bulge bracket bank with a high competency in Excel, whilst some people would consider that prestigious, you can’t generally get hired as e.g. a senior researcher for the BBC or a marketing manager. You can get hired in many roles involving Excel and analytics, and that’s why accounting and IB have very good exit options. Accountants can do pretty much anything.


Slim Shady




This poster’s comment (at 11 May, 10:43) is deeply concerning and, frankly, quite offensively misleading in several ways. He or she needs to be called out on them lest impressionable and likely less arrogant readers are taken in by his or her codswallop above.

Firstly, he or she asserts that in the original article “there’s a incorrect conflation between being a trainee/junior and then being a partner in the earlier paragraphs” (it’s “an incorrect”, by the way …) yet hypocritically fails to provide any evidence to substantiate his or her claim. In the face of the very real fact that most law firms (not just City shops) are built on a rigidly hierarchical model with countless stories abounding of people being “forced out” once it became clear to the partnership they did not want to join the partnership, how on earth can the poster credibly assert that the article is “incorrect” in its argument about the prevalence of the desire among juniors to reach partnership, particularly in previous years?

Secondly, the poster claims that “this article pretends to be about partnership”. In what way does it pretend? The poster would do well to read the article carefully before reaching such absurd, ill-founded and plainly wrong conclusions.

Thirdly – and, most hilariously, in some respects – he or she claims that “the writer doesn’t know anything about it”. He or she might have long ago convinced him or herself that he or she wields a brain the size of a planet and that all who approach him or her should bow in humble obeisance before his or her superior knowledge. But with what realistic authority can the poster claim to know what goes on inside every single law firm? How can he or she know the extent of everyone else’s experience? To assert that “a very a junior cog peeking into a partner’s office doesn’t have anything useful to say on the subject” is precisely the kind of dismissive, holier-than-thou, stuck-up garbage that will, if permitted to continue with impunity, spell the ultimate doom of the prevailing structure of private practice law firms. I don’t know whether the poster is some latter-day Tulkinghorn who, like Jean-Claude Juncker and the EU, is desperate to defend the current shape of the legal profession until his or her dying breath (his or her supercilious tone certainly quite comically suggests that he or she might be). But he or she should be in no doubt that arrogance like that really doesn’t do you any favours at all, even in a law firm where it might seem junior staff look up to you and like you (rest assured behind your back they’ll be calling you a c***).

An assistant working in a City law firm with almost constant contact with partners, who talks to the more open ones about the machinations of partnership and who carefully observes the divine and superior behaviour of those apotheoses of humanity is really very capable indeed of providing a much-needed insight into what it is like ascending the greasy pole. To separate the process of being “made up” as a senior associate and the career progression of junior ranks to try to prove his or her bizarre assertion that juniors can have no idea about partnership and so can’t form a view is simply unfounded in fact. What’s more, it seriously undermines the reliability of this poster’s knowledge on this subject and demonstrates quite an alarming lack of understanding for someone who took it upon themselves to post a site like this to impart his or her wisdom to others.

In the knowledge that the poster is probably an extremely successful master-of-the-universe and almost certainly prefers things concise and to-the-point, please note the following further remarks on some of his/her more ignorant comments:

1) “Everyone knows you can go in-house”: Again, the lofty, arrogant assumption of someone who really hasn’t got a clue about much beyond the extent of his or her rarefied world.

2) “Option 5 is simply wrong. “there is a vast multitude of possible alternative careers out there just waiting” – it’s “there are”, and name one. You can’t because there isn’t.”: Jesus H Christ someone really does sound rattled. Here’s a list of possible areas known to be particularly receptive to the skills lawyers have for a start: banking /finance; business development; charity sector; corporate social responsibility; design; events planning; fitness; further study; hospitality; HR; industry; investor relations; journalism; management consultancy; PR/advertising/communications; property; recruitment; reflexology; wine/food industry. Sneer at these as you might, but a simple Internet search reveals the extent of possible alternatives to be almost endless. The original article does not claim that it is easily simply to shift to an equivalent level in another career path (though of course that is possible). But why does this poster so arrogantly belittle going back to start again in a career a person loves? Does he or she secretly tremble at the prospect of losing the respect of his peers at no longer being able to state bombastically and smarmily “I’m a City lawyah” in the event that he or she decided to retrain and started at the bottom? If you’re prepared to make the sacrifice, have some courage, a work ethic where it counts, and aren’t prepared to be held back by the negative bullshit so many in today’s legal profession continue to spout, there more possibilities than I can name. Just choose one. And prove jealous misanthropes like this poster WRONG.

Oh, and “multitude” is a singular rather than a plural, so “there is” most definitely IS acceptable. It’s clear this commenter knows as much about the nuances of the English language as he or she does about the current state of the legal services industry. I fear for the affairs of any clients this poster may have, I really do. TRUST HIM OR HER AT YOUR PERIL, GENTLE READERS!



“There are” is more grammatically correct when referring to a noun which describes a plural. It’s jarring, e.g. “There is a multitude of ways which…”.

Other than that, you write like a GCSE student trying to use a thesaurus.

I’m a mid level associate and I wouldn’t talk on behalf on partners at my firm. I can talk on behalf of myself and my own experience. The exits you describe also don’t work for reasons outlined above.



I think he was trying to illustrate there are no exit options that can be taken without loss of career momentum. This is different for example to an accountant, as explained in the previous post.

Lawyers are firmly lawyers, with tunnelled qualifications (if not doing any conversion course) for a specific career. An accountant however, can happily switch from banking, head of finance, financial adviser, commercial banking, trader, fintech even.

They also don’t lose career momentum, typically maintaining pay and seniority.



It’s sad it needs to be explained and re-explained. And then re-explained some more.
Wouldnt surprise me if that other commenter wrote the article, it’s so oddly butthurt.



who the hell spends that much time analyzing comments and producing a thesis on them


Doc. Giovetto Pistachio

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.



What about joining a US firm for 5-6 years then in-house



Reference to partners dining room reveals firm…



In the words of Harvey Specter…




I’m a mid level associate in a city law firm (silver circle). I work with partners on a daily basis. I drink with partners on a daily basis. I used to share an office with a partner as an NQ. I can say with certainty that is not where I want to be in 10 years time. There is far more to life than shuffling paper people will never read and arguing about intricate points of law nobody in the real world cares about. Covering your back because clients want to use you as an insurance policy and being on call 24/7 because clients think they deserve it given your high charge out rights. How my day goes very much depends on the mood of my supervising partners. If they’re feeling great and happy I may not have to cancel my plans and they might help me out, if not, they may come crashing down on me because I did the formatting wrong (1 thing out of 100 not perfect but boy did they notice)!

A few years of this I can do. For the “buzz” of a deal, for the status and for the money. It’s what I know but when you speak to friends and family who don’t work in law you soon realise just how abnormal lawyers and law firm culture really is. If someone asks you to do something at 6:30 most people say “sure yeah il do that tomorrow” but for lawyers it has to be done there and then and to an absolutely perfect standard all of the time.



Two quick points on this:

– You completely ignore all the positive ways in which lawyers and law firm culture are “abnormal” (which is a value-neutral term). Compared to a lot of other jobs, employees in law firms enjoy a hell of a lot of perks: yes they work hard but they are supported. First and foremost by markedly higher pay than (say) someone who works in advertising, or marketing, or teaching, or the charity sector (the list goes on). Not only that though. Lawyers also enjoy lots of other fringe perks: free taxis, free food, lavish entertaining budgets (both with clients and internally). These vary from firm to firm, sure, but they are usually available. In a lot of other professions you just suck it up. Working ’til 9? Get the bus home mate. Chin up. Lawyers like to think that they are in some way unique in the way they work; it’s just not true.

– Doing things to an “absolutely perfect standard all the time” is what differentiates lawyers from a lot of other areas of work. Not because we are better than them, but because the job we do requires accuracy and precision where others do not. In a corporate transaction, or a pleading, or a letter to the other side in a litigation matter, what you say matters. In fact, that precision and attention to detail is exactly what is likely to differentiate lawyers from other employees in the wider job market (should you ever decide to leave). The acceptable standard (at least in most half decent firms) is just a lot higher than in some other industries, because it has to be for them to stay in business.



As a partner I would suggest you all spend less time on this nonsense and more time a) doing and loving your job; or b) figuring out what you will do with your lottery win. Pah.


Earl of Lancaster

What are people’s opinions on NRF as a firm?


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