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Why Every Law Firm Partner Needs a Strong Support Network

Stepping into partnership can feel like the leveling up your math in school. You learned the rules and managed to turn the confusion of algebra into the everyday work of 'math homework.' But taking all those same concepts and amplifying them into calculus seems insurmountable. The new responsibilities of law firm partnership are immense, the expectations are high, and the path forward can often seem daunting. It's in these moments that a strong support network can be most valuable. Having the right support -- and, really, the right mix of support -- can keep you from feeling overwhelmed and move you forward in ways you didn't expect. Whether it's through a seasoned mentor, an insightful coach, or a supportive peer group, professional support comes in many forms, each playing a crucial role in your leadership journey.

What Do We Mean By Professional Support

While professional support includes a range of resources, I want to focus today on the relationships that help you grow, develop, and succeed in new and challenging roles. For law firm partners, this support is particularly critical because the transition into this new position of responsibility is both highly visible and very important to the health of the firm. For law firm partners, common sources of support include mentors who share their own wisdom, coaches who help sharpen the partners' skills, peer groups that offer mutual support, and professional organizations that provide resources and networking opportunities.

Why Professional Support Matters

Yes, professional support matters to bolster your well-being and emotional resilience, to aid in skills development, expand your network, and provide accountability. But there are a few other reasons that are just as important, even if they're not as obvious.

The first is innovation. Exposure to new ideas and innovative practices through professional organizations and peer groups can drive growth and improvement both personally and within the firm. And getting a new perspective from a mentor or coach can prompt new ways of thinking about a problem that lead to new solutions. A dynamic and diverse support system encourages us be creative and more engaged.

Similarly, integrating the diverse perspectives and experiences of mentors, coaches, and peers can improve decision-making. Consulting with these different sources can lead to insights that you might not have considered on your own or highlight pros/cons or branching implications of your decisions that you wouldn't otherwise consider. Working with others is these different relationships can mitigate certain cognitive biases and increase the quality of your decisions.

The continuous process of leadership development also benefits from a robust support system. This is obviously an area that I find critical to success, and the compounding impact of great leadership is worth the investment. Coaching and mentorship can be particularly useful here, as you're able to focus on specific skills such as delegation, feedback, conflict resolution, and strategic thinking. By improving your leadership capacity, you are better able to be a positive influence on the well-being of your peers and colleagues and to influence how they and your clients experience the practice of law.

Finally, an often overlooked benefit of a great support system is the facilitating of a new partner's 'cultural integration' into a firm. Obviously, for lateral partners, it is critical to their professional success and personal happiness to get integrated into the firm quickly. But there are similar concerns for newly promoted partners who are not changing firms. There are new, different, and often unspoken expectations for partners. Mentors who are familiar with the firm's history and values can help new partners understand and navigate the cultural nuances of a firm. Peers within the firm can provide social support, a sense of belonging, and avenues to build strong internal referral relationships. And coaches can help new partners develop and then refine their leadership style to fit the new firm or their new role in a firm.

Sources of Professional Support

Professional support can take various forms, each offering unique benefits. Understanding these different forms can help you make informed choices about the the mix of support you want to cultivate.


Mentorship is the most traditional and one of the most effective forms of professional support. It fits squarely into the historical apprenticeship model of lawyering. A mentor is typically someone with more experience who provides guidance, shares insights, and offers advice based on their own experiences. For new partners, a mentor can be invaluable in navigating the formal responsibilities of their role and the nuances of firm life.

Mentors help mentees understand the firm's culture, build relationships with colleagues, and can help develop strategic thinking. They can also offer a safe space to discuss challenges, seek advice, and gain perspective.


While mentorship focuses on guidance and advice, coaching is more about skill development and personal growth. Most leadership coaches will work with a client to identify their strengths and weaknesses, set goals, and develop strategies to achieve them. Coaching is often more structured than mentorship and can be tailored to address specific areas of improvement.

Leadership coaches help new partners enhance their communication skills, improve time management, and develop effective delegation and supervision strategies. They provide tools and techniques to manage stress, build resilience, and lead with confidence. Choosing the right coach should involve assessing their expertise, coaching style, and alignment with your goals and values.

Peer Groups

Peer groups range from informal networks of friends and colleagues to formal mastermind groups consisting of attorneys and other professionals at similar stages in their careers. The common thread is that these are groups who come together, virtually or in person, to support each other. These groups offer a platform for mutual learning, idea sharing, and problem-solving. For new partners, being part of a peer group can provide a sense of camaraderie and collective wisdom.

Being able to discuss common challenges, share best practices, and gain new perspectives can be invaluable. Depending on the structure and formality, peer groups can also offer accountability and encouragement, helping participants stay focused on their goals.

Professional Organizations

Professional organizations offer a wealth of learning and supporting resources and opportunities for networking. They provide access to industry events, training programs, and publications that keep members informed about the latest trends and best practices.

Being part of a professional organization also opens up opportunities for leadership roles (to hone your leadership skills by doing), speaking engagements, and recognition within the industry. It can help you build your reputation, expand your network, and stay connected with the broader legal community.

No matter what mix of support you create, consider including a strong does of support from outside your firm. It will often be useful to have a resource outside your firm, where you can share challenges (while maintaining appropriate confidences) without the added layer of firm politics.

Your Call to Action

As you decide what kind of leader you want to be, it is crucial to build a robust professional support network to help you shape your growth. Here are some steps you can take:

  • Identify Potential Mentors: Look for experienced professionals within your firm or industry who can offer guidance and support. Approach them with a clear idea of what you hope to gain from the mentorship relationship.

  • Seek Out a Coach: Consider working with a leadership coach who can help you develop specific skills and achieve your professional goals. Research potential coaches and choose one whose expertise and approach align with your needs. Reach out to me and I'll help you find the right person to support you -- whether that's me or one of other amazing coaches in my network 😉.

  • Join Peer Groups: Connect with other law firm partners or professionals at similar stages in their careers. Look for peer groups or mastermind groups that offer the support and accountability you need. (I'm standing up a private Facebook group for this purpose -- shoot me an email and I'll tell you more about it.)

  • Leverage Existing Resources: Don't forget that your firm may have useful support structures in place already. Don't ignore them! Participate in training programs, attend industry and bar events, and get involved with professional organizations that can help you grow and succeed.

Professional support isn't just a luxury, it's a necessity for law firm partners who aim to excel. Whether through mentorship, coaching, peer groups, or professional organizations, having a strong support system can provide the innovation, improved decision-making, leadership development, and cultural integration that accelerate success and set you apart. By building and leveraging these support networks, you can more quickly work toward the practice that you're after and skip some of the pain of feeling your way there.



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