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Integrity, good communication skills, good judgment and a collaborative spirit. Those are the four qualities law firm leaders referenced most when asked, “What one trait is most important for a Partner?”.

While legal expertise and having a large book of business are, of course, important, it was those more innate qualities that tended to stand out to top brass as being vital to the success and harmony of their firms. Often, what makes a good Partner is a person who can operate their practice smoothly, without creating problems for management and the law firm as a whole.

 

Integrity

To rely upon and trust each other. That’s necessary for firms to be successful. Clients know they can rely on your advice and to put their interests first, then that’s how you differentiate yourself from other firms. Clients want to hear what's the best way to get something done and also what's the right thing to do. Partners that are willing to tell clients what you believe is the right thing to do.

 

Good Communication Skills

When dealing with fellow Partners, associates or law firm staff, and especially when dealing with clients, good communication is vital for a Partner to succeed.

One big way Partners can communicate better is by becoming good listeners. Too many times people are too focused on getting their own message out that they don't stop to listen. And part of having good communication skills is you have to listen, and try to respond to what the person is saying to you. Law firm bosses want Partners who keep major clients happy, which means strong communication and no surprises when it comes to case results or billing.

 

Judgment

Being able to make judicious decisions in a variety of contexts is an important skill for Partners to have. Having the ability to be a trusted adviser to valued clients. The one thing that gets people there is great judgment. When you think of judgment, think of someone who has empathy, someone who has discernment, someone who will always push himself or herself in a healthy way to achieve at a high level. It also means Partners knowing how much to ask of colleagues and those working under them.

 

A Collaborative Spirit

Collaboration is especially important in large law firms with numerous offices and where work is often originated in one office and performed in another. You must successfully collaborate both with their colleagues and clients to provide the type of exceptional service. Along with being adept at collaborating on work, firm leaders also said Partners must have a team spirit mentality in which they work hard for the betterment of the law firm as a whole, rather than simply for themselves.

Emphasis on collaboration and a team-oriented outlook is paramount to the success of a firm. Some Partners think that just because they control a huge book of business and can keep major clients satisfied that it gives them a pass on internal firm rules and policies.

 

By Managing Legal Recruitment Consultant Sean Nicholson (Head of London).