Making a move for Partnership – what to expect
This is a common theme in discussions we have with Qualified Patent Attorneys and Trade Mark Attorneys who are looking to take that next step in their careers: the path to Partnership.
Should I stay or should I go?
Does partnership within your current practice look attractive? Or is it full of politics or financial burdens which you’d rather steer clear of?
If you're happy with your current paractice, talk to either your immediate boss or another member of the management/ partnership about your prospects. This should only include a discussion about timescales, but what is expected of you as a Patent Attorney or Trade Mark Attorney aspiring to join the partnership. Click here for advice on business cases for aspiring partners
If you’ve explored the path for progression with your current practice and found that:
You’ve applied for partnership and not been successful
You’ve been given too long a timescale (particularly in comparison with others)
You’ve been made promises which haven’t been kept
Other colleagues have been promoted ahead of you
The firm has recruited externally at Partner level above you
You may be wise in looking at options to progress to Partnership elsewhere.
If you’re moving, make it sooner rather than later
Two of the key issues for discussion when firms are recruiting aspiring Patent or Trade Mark Partners are:
This is an extremely rare level to join a firm at: equity partners are not only the owners of the business, they’ve invested financially into it. Just as it would be unwise to offer someone a share of the business without knowing and working with them, how happy would you be about investing your money in a business you’ve not yet worked in and have no inside knowledge about?
They are still employees of the business, so it’s more common to recruit at this level. However, because of the degree of responsibility and profile, firms will typically look at similar criteria to those you have discussed with your existing practice ie the ability to add value by bringing work or contacts, or existing partnership status. What are the reasons you’ve not yet become a Partner in your current practice, and to what extent could they apply to a new practice?
This can be a key difference between firms. Your current practice:
May have a policy of waiting a certain number of years before promoting Partners
May not have “room” in the Partnership
May not need a succession plan for retiring Partners for longer than you’re prepared to wait
When assessing your Partnership options elsewhere, assess the following:
What immediate value / following you can bring that may satisfy Partnership criteria
Whether Salaried Partnership is available (some firms only have Equity Partners, in which case a typical “bedding in” time can be anything from 2 – 5 years)
How long you’re prepared to wait: if the business case isn’t there to recruit immediately at Partner level, or you’re not quite ready for it yet, most job offers at this “transition” level, will look at a 2 year period before promotion to Partnership. There can be no guarantees (until you’re working there, you’re a relatively unknown entity), which is why it pays to think about a move sooner rather than later if the Partnership prospects look bleak or unattractive in your current practice.
Like true love, the path to Partnership may not always run smoothly, but it’s worth it when you get there! Unlike the path to true love, our experienced IP consultants are well placed to advise you on what you should expect as you progress towards Partnership! Please give one of us a call for a further discussion in complete confidence.