en
Jobs

Let our industry specialists listen to your aspirations and present your story to the organisations in Hong Kong that fit you the best as we collaborate to write the next chapter of your successful career.

See all jobs
Candidates

Together, we’ll map out career-defining, life-changing pathways to achieve your career ambitions. Browse our range of services, advice, and resources.

Learn more
Services

We understand that no two organisations are the same. Find out more about how we've customised our recruitment offerings to help companies in Hong Kong meet their needs.

Read more
About Robert Walters Hong Kong

Since our establishment in 1997, our belief remains the same: Building strong relationships with people is vital in a successful partnership.

Learn more

Work for us

Our people are the difference. Hear stories from our people to learn more about a career at Robert Walters Hong Kong

Learn more

Five tips to become a Partner by 35

Despite being more afflicted by economic and political uncertainty over the last decade, partnership at a law firm is still very much an attainable goal for millennial legal professionals wanting to forge a long and illustrious career in the sector.

Are you a hard-working aspirational lawyer looking to fast-track to a Partner position? Our Legal Recruitment specialists at Robert Walters, share five key tips to help you on your way to becoming a Partner by the time you are 35.

Understand your firm’s expectations

Understanding from the outset the progression framework in place at your law firm enables you to map out your route to partnership straight away.

Many mid-level lawyers who crave a partnership badge, surprisingly can have little idea from their current employer what expectations the firm/partnership requires in terms of self-generated work, profitability, or whether or not the firm has an “all equity” structure.

Most law firms are becoming increasingly transparent on career progression and candidates can manage upwards from the early stages of their career. Some firms have implemented mandatory “partnership clarity” conversations at six years PQE that has seen a greater return to retention and promotion levels. Most law firms also have very differing views on what is required to enter partnership, so it is imperative these conversations start early with your HR colleagues and immediate reporting lines.

Develop your business straight away

Don’t wait until your promotion to Senior Associate before thinking about your firm’s business development plan. Being proactive and adopting critical business thinking could facilitate your transition to Partner level, allowing you to demonstrate key senior-level skills, generate work for your business and make an impact straight away. Areas where professionals are already driving business development at the junior level.

I would encourage lawyers to be business-focused and entrepreneurial early on and not let the “business thinking” be done by the current partners. 

 

Leading junior lawyers from a lot of US law firms have taken an active step in demonstrating their partnership potential in the early stages of their careers. As private equity and venture capital appetite has continued to increase in London, many bright corporate lawyers are spearheading internal business development initiatives in this space. For instance, many lawyers have tracked leading VC businesses from San Francisco to London and have generated a lot of work for their firms by simply applying a touch of business nous.

Many VC/private equity lawyers from these firms are also following portfolio companies that they work with and are ultimately far more advanced than their peers waiting for work to be fed down the line. Some leading litigation lawyers are also partnering in very innovative ways with litigation funders as 3rd party funding becomes a hot spot for growth across the globe. Whatever the area, it is key not to sit idle and wait for the work to fall into your lap.  

Lawyers are encouraged to be business-focused and entrepreneurial early on and not let the “business thinking” be done by the current partners. Many stand-out candidates are being creative with a variety of trade press publications and making very actionable plans for firms to support their analysis. Building relationships with your business development or marketing functions and creating an impression early on will also help raise your professional profile within the business.

Specialise in a high-growth area

Keeping an eye on industry developments can allow you to specialise in future high-demand areas of the legal profession.

Can you spot a trend and be forward-thinking about economic cycles? For example, the amount of work now being generated around blockchain and data analytics is staggering and some firms are becoming increasingly forthright in their investment in these areas. The payments and derivatives industries are also two areas whereby some firms are leapfrogging others due to the innovative ideas of their lawyers. 

Build a professional network

Engaging with a variety of professional mentors is proven to help reach Partner status earlier in your career. Wider exposure to the industry through alumni events, trade fairs, chamber of commerce events, CPD events, as well as old university contacts, gives you a plethora of opportunities to forge a strong professional network and accelerate your progression in the field. Lawyers can unfortunately become indoctrinated in their own firm, so it is helpful to seek advice from sources outside of the firm.   

Develop your skillset in-house

While private practice is considered the traditional route to becoming a Partner, here are some of the benefits of progressing in-house to reach this position.

Going in-house for a period is not seen as a blockade to partnership anymore. Many positives include utilising the time to generate business, consulting a mentor outside of a law firm, refining your softer skills through “one client” and appreciating life as a support function as opposed to a fully-fledged fee earner. These subtle nuances could assist you down the line when making the transition to partnership.

Although the halcyon days of strong law firm growth in the mid-90s and early 2000s have come to an end, if you are a forward-thinking lawyer with an entrepreneurial spirit who can manage up accordingly, there is no reason why you shouldn’t become a partner by 35.

Searching for legal recruitment agencies? Robert Walters' Hong Kong legal team recruits professionals across the market. Offering expert career advice and key market intelligence, we place an emphasis on guiding you throughout your legal career.

Share this article

Useful links

Sign up for job alerts
Salary Survey
Career Advice
Get in touch

Find out more by contacting one of our specialist recruitment consultants

Related content

View All

Five tips to become a Partner by 35

Despite being more afflicted by economic and political uncertainty over the last decade, partnership at a law firm is still very much an attainable goal for millennial legal professionals wanting to forge a long and illustrious career in the sector. Are you a hard-working aspirational lawyer looking

Read More

Developing and managing your legal career

Today's work environment is challenging and pressure for increased productivity has never been greater for legal professionals. In these challenging times, development and career planning is essential to help you enjoy a rewarding and satisfying working life. While most firms recognise the value of

Read More

Becoming a corporate lawyer

If you are interested in business and finance, and would rather not face a jury on a regular basis, then corporate law may just be the path for you. What does a corporate lawyer do? Corporate lawyers offer businesses advice on a host of issues. Their role is to advise a corporation of its legal righ

Read More

Graduate Trainee Programme 2024

Are you interested in launching your career with a world-leading specialist in professional recruitment? Gain valuable experience, expert training, and the opportunity to make a positive impact across the globe.