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Transitioning from Associate to Partner: a guide for corporate lawyer mothers

Transitioning from an associate to a partner in a Magic Circle law firm is a challenging yet rewarding journey, especially for female corporate lawyers.

I’ve already discussed the main challenges that an associate faces here.

If you also have a family and children, things become even more complicated (but you already know this, isn’t it?).

The path is often fraught with unique obstacles such as impostor syndrome, the pressure to secure high-profile clients, and the demands of balancing long working hours with personal commitments.

Female partnership in corporate and M&A is still lower compared to other departments.

However, with the right strategies and mindset, these challenges can be overcome, paving the way for a successful career at the top.

Understanding the Challenges

One of the most significant challenges you might face is impostor syndrome.

Despite your qualifications and achievements, it’s easy to doubt your abilities and fear being exposed as a fraud: I’ve noticed that there is a kind of quantum leap when it comes to partnership in Corporate and M&A.

Coupled with long working hours that often extend well beyond the standard workday, this can lead to significant stress and burnout.

Another critical challenge is the necessity of attracting and retaining high-profile clients.

In a competitive environment, the ability to bring in and manage VIP clients is essential for career advancement.

Additionally, you must demonstrate strong leadership skills and determination, which are crucial for being considered for partnership.

This includes:

  • managing a robust client portfolio,
  • developing business, and
  • effectively networking within the industry.

Building a Strong Business Case

To transition to partner, you must build a compelling business case.

This involves developing and managing a solid client portfolio, showcasing your ability to generate significant revenue for the firm.

Effective networking is crucial in this regard, as it helps build relationships with potential clients and industry influencers.

Networking is particularly challenging if you have additional responsibilities at home.

However, leveraging online platforms and attending key industry events can help balance these demands.

Side note: being active on LinkedIn and spending a few minutes commenting on industry articles, taking an interest in a deal related to a recent operation of yours, and congratulating a colleague is all part of networking

And, of course, building a personal brand through thought leadership, such as writing articles or speaking at conferences, can also enhance your visibility and credibility.

Leadership Skills and Determination

I think we can all agree that cultivating essential leadership skills is vital for aspiring partners.

But the real Gordian knot for a mother lawyer in corporate and M&A is managing to have enough energy to seize the opportunities to prove oneself.

This includes not only legal expertise but also the ability to lead teams, manage complex projects, and make strategic decisions.

Demonstrating determination and resilience in the face of challenges is equally important.

You need to show that you can handle the pressures of a partner role while maintaining high standards of performance.

Juggling the countless tasks that your personal life adds to the mix. It’s not easy, and even less so if you add an ex-husband and the need to find an effective and peaceful co-parenting agreement for the children.

Mentorship and Diversity

Mentorship plays a crucial role in career advancement.

It’s a common habit mentioning the supervisor of your master’s degree, but it’s less common to thank your mentor in a Magic Circle law firm.

Seek out mentors who can provide guidance, support, and valuable insights.

Additionally, serving as a mentor to other women can help build a supportive network and promote diversity within the firm.

Embracing and promoting diversity is increasingly recognized as a valuable asset in the legal industry.

Magic Circle firms are beginning to acknowledge the importance of diverse perspectives in driving innovation and success.

You can leverage this trend to advocate for yourself and others, fostering a more inclusive work environment.

The journey from associate to partner is demanding, but with the right strategies, you can successfully navigate this path.

I’ve noticed that for women working in Corporate and M&A, it’s significantly difficult to understand when they are asking too much of themselves.

That’s why having a specialized coach on board makes a big difference between reaching a breaking point without realizing it and channeling your energies to actualize your aspirations into a rewarding and fulfilling career.

Giusy Falco

My mission is to help top-tiers corporate lawyer mothers, freshly separated, juggling with a high-demanding career and day-to-day responsibilities without forcing them to choose what to give up. I want to improve the legal environment one butterfly effect at a time.