Pippa Byrne was recently promoted to Partner. Here, Pippa shares the three key things shed learned during the partnership promotion process, in case they are of use to any aspiring partners-to-be – or simply those who are looking to take the next step in their careers.
1. Get off the fence
For this one, thanks have to go to Karima Hudson who, when I was bemoaning why I hadn’t yet been plucked from the trenches and asked for lunch in the partner’s dining room, said (in the matter of fact way that she always does) “well of course not Pippa, have you ever told anyone that you want to be a partner? How do you expect us to know what you want, if you haven’t been clear about it?”.
I was not backward about coming forward
A very good question. As a newly qualified lawyer, I had been hungry for partnership. However, by the time I got to five years qualified, I started to question whether marrying rich wouldn’t have been a better option after all. After leaving law and returning to it, my ambitions for partnership had been clarified, but only in my own mind. I’d held back asking for it, probably because I was worried about asking for it and not getting it. However, I took this advice (reprimand?) on board and, when joining Osborne Clarke, I was not backward about coming forward. I was entirely clear about my aspirations and my expected timelines. And it was received with a level of positivity that I wasn’t quite expecting.
2. YOU have to back up your own goals
Which brings me nicely on to tip #2, inspired by the formidable Eddie Hall, who set out to win World’s Strongest Man and then worked hard every single day to make it happen. As Eddie says “You’ve made it open and then you’ve got to achieve that goal, otherwise you look… stupid and that’s why I’ve set my goals, I’ve been very loud about them, but then I’ve backed them all up because that’s my biggest fear, saying I’m going to do something and then not doing it.” Eddie has a catchphrase which perfectly encapsulates this principle, which became my partnership mantra, but I didn’t want to risk a LinkedIn ban by using it in this blog (so google it!).
Just. Do. It. It’s not that bad. Honestly
Once you have got off the metaphorical fence and declared to the world (or at the very least, your line manager) that you want to be a partner, YOU have to put it into action. No more excuses – “oh, I would have had coffee with that contact, but I was too busy doing client work” (my favourite). Just. Do. It. It’s not that bad. Honestly. Make it your priority, not something you turn your attention to when you don’t have client work to do. There will always be client work to do, but doing client work alone, no matter how brilliantly, will not make you a partner.
3. Ask for support (and take it!)
Promotion is a process that needs to be led by you, but help is out there if you ask for it. It would have been a much more difficult process without the support of the partners in my team, who have raised my profile both externally and internally, and provided a sounding board, mentoring and sometimes plain old tough love when I’ve needed it.
It would have been a much more difficult process without the support of the partners in my team
But I’ve also had so much support from elsewhere around the firm – from junior female lawyers who have told me they’re rooting for me, to partners in other teams who have reached out to offer help and advice on the partnership process. The support of clients, intermediaries and ex-colleagues, throwing me a referral here and there to help me along the way also deserves a shout out, not least because it boosted my confidence no end. Undoubtedly the greatest support comes from my amazing family and friends, who have backed me from day one, particularly my patient fiancé who must be bored to tears with the whole process by now and eagerly awaiting my retirement.
I’ve put in a lot of hard graft to reach this career milestone, but the pain has been eased by the support of all of these fabulous people who believed in me. I will be sure to thank them all personally over time, but right now I plan to take a moment or two to revel in this achievement before the hard work really starts…