Law Partnerships Then and Now


Partnership Then and Now

In a landmark report on perceptions of partnership, the National Association for Law Placement contrasted the characteristics of partnership at the close of the 20th century with those that existed for most of the last century:


  • Mutual lifetime commitment
  • Abundant legal work
  • No capital contribution
  • Profitability of the firm paramount
  • Low risk and little liability
  • Continually earn more throughout career
  • Mutual respect among partners
  • Partnership criteria embraced large numbers
  • Teamwork and collaboration


  • No promises, no loyalty, much mobility
  • Increased competition for legal work
  • Significant capital contribution
  • Profitability of the individual paramount
  • High risk and extensive liability
  • High earnings possible, dependent on economy
  • Lack of respect and common courtesy
  • Rigid criteria to restrict qualifying associates
  • Isolation and “every man for himself”


Perceptions of Partnership: The Allure and Accessibility of the Brass Ring. NALP Foundation for Research and Education, 1999.


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