Choosing the Right Law Firm Partner: Sometimes Unlikely Duos are a Winning Combo

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Are you considering starting your own law practice or inviting a senior attorney to join your firm as a partner? When you’re seeking to expand your law practice by forming a partnership, don’t confine yourself to a cookie-cutter replica of yourself. Sometimes, choosing the right law firm partner means selecting an unlikely candidate. You’ll want to certainly look for enough common ground to ensure compatibility—with a dash of difference to keep the relationship dynamic.

For example, Rapper Snoop Dogg and domestic diva Martha Stewart are teaming up for a cooking show. That sounds like a wild internet rumor, but the fall debut of “Martha & Snoop’s Dinner Party” on VH1 is a done deal.

At first glance, the pairing of domestic diva and hip-hop mogul seems nothing short of peculiar. She built a multimedia empire on entertaining and gracious living. He’s a musician, producer, and 17-time Grammy nominee.

What could they possibly have in common? More than you might think.

Both celebrities share a love of cooking (he’s twice been a guest on her show), and both know firsthand how it feels to fall from grace. The fact that both remain popular despite their personal and professional setbacks attests to their skill at reinventing themselves.

All of which goes to show that an unlikely combination can flourish on many levels and in many settings.

Factors to Consider When Choosing the Right Law Firm Partner

Experience: Teaming up with lawyers with varying amounts of experience is a smart move. Veteran attorneys can offer guidance and mentoring to less experienced colleagues, while younger lawyers can help their older counterparts with Twitter, e-discovery or document-management software.

Goals and Dreams: Where do you see yourself in a decade? How do you want your practice to evolve? No two lawyers will have the same answers to those questions, but their broad goals should be compatible. Each might say, “I want to be successful.” But what does success mean? One might define success in terms of earning a certain amount per year, while for the other, success might mean being able to consistently devote a percentage of her time to pro bono work. In a healthy partnership, these attorneys can support each other so each can reach their goal.

Diversity: Does your new practice reflect your community and your clients? Multilingual attorneys and support staff are a plus—and sometimes a must—in many areas, as is a fairly even split across gender lines. The more diverse your firm, the more readily you can overcome barriers, such as language or culture, that might deter prospective clients.

Knowledge and Skills: Running a law practice entails much more than attending client meetings and writing legal briefs. A successful practice is also a successful business. You and your new partners will all have legal experience. But does anyone have skills in accounting, hiring, and management? Lawyers who took circuitous routes to the profession, whether through corporate jobs, academia or a family business, can apply those skills and be vital safeguards for the business.

Area of Expertise: A transactional lawyer should join forces with another transactional lawyer so each can cover the other’s client matters—right? Not necessarily so. Competing for the same clients can put a strain on a business relationship, and a single specialty limits the firm’s appeal to prospective clients. Instead, consider broadening your firm’s range of specialties by partnering with an attorney in a different practice area or a group of lawyers with several distinct specialties. The firm can then market itself to a larger pool of potential clients and can serve more clients’ needs without having to make outside referrals.

Mixing it up has its benefits in any field. Keys for a successful collaboration include cooperation, mutual respect and, as Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg demonstrate, the willingness to embrace a sense of adventure.

Ready to advance your legal career? If you’re ready for new opportunities in your legal career or considering an advancement in the legal profession contact Special Counsel today to learn more about opportunities available to you.

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