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In Up or Over

Making Partner

It's Up or Out No More as Alternatives Shake up the Traditional Partnership Model

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From the Editor

Weighing Partnerships

by David J. Bilinsky

An associate waiting to be asked to become a partner is undergoing a right of passage. And like any right of passage, it is a time of angst and anxiety—especially these days, when firms are establishing so many alternatives to full partnership. Assuming that you desire full partnership, what should you be doing to maximize your chances? After the long wait, how do you evaluate the golden offer? If after some analysis, the offer is not quite what you had expected, or you have decided that your life lies in a different direction, what are the options available to you? What kinds of shifts can you expect in moving off the partnership track?

This issue is centered on the pivotal question of whether to become a partner—or not.

In our cover story, Janet Raasch provides an excellent overview of how the traditional model of partnership has changed—and how the changes are actually increasing the in-firm options available to lawyers. Our case study considers the perspective of an associate looking at the offer of partnership and gives expert guidance on how to approach the myriad factors to be considered before deciding whether to accept.

"Is there life after law firms?" is the question posed by Marcia Pennington Shannon (our illustrious Issue Editor) in her feature examining the options in getting off the partnership track. Marcia also contributes in her regular column on the process for a dignified and respectful separation of the ways, when someone is not going to be made a partner.

Speaking of regular columns, this issue also launches Ross Fishman's new column on marketing communications. In "What REALLY Works," Ross talks about how to transform a firm by moving from safe, "traditional" legal marketing for a full-service mainstream firm to a complete identity makeover using fresh and innovative messaging. How he persuaded the partners of Shefsky & Froelich to embark on this adventure is the $64,000 question; but there in no question that the campaign has worked wonders—and has important implications for any firm looking to grow beyond its current limitations.

And a hearty welcome to new columnist Nerino Petro, Jr., too, who beginning with this issue gives you the scoop on eye-catching technology tools in our Product Watch section.

This issue is the result of cooperation and partnership team spirit. Issue Editor Marcia Pennington Shannon has done an outstanding job. Indeed, all of our contributors have made this issue what it is—a fabulous insight into partnership and the questions involved in deciding whether it is better to move up, or move out.