I confess: I totally missed it when I was practicing law, and I only learned what I had done, after a few years and then I made a change.

What did I miss? I had a superstar associate working for me, and for a few years I did not give him the full opportunity to develop his own practice. For my former colleagues and friends, his name started with a T. For this blog I will call him Tom.

I provided Tom with at least 2000 hours of billable work a year, including one year traveling to Las Vegas every single week for several months to work on a big project there. I gave Tom articles to write for my monthly Roads and Bridges column, without giving him the credit for contributing to the column. Tom also helped me put together presentations for clients.

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I finally realized, after Joyce said something to me, that my star associate was miserable. Tom hated being gone from his family Monday through Friday and he did not appreciate spending many non-billable hours helping me without getting any credit.

At that point, there was nothing I could do about the Las Vegas project. Thankfully, after a one day mediation it settled. Instead of having him write for me, I found opportunities for him to get his own articles published. Instead of helping me prepare presentations, I made him a co-presenter. After a short time, Tom was being asked to make presentations and do workshops for clients without me.

So, here is the issue every senior partner with a large book of business faces. You may have associates and junior partners who feel they are unable to develop their own business relationships and profile because they are working full time on your clients’ matters.

They won’t say anything to you, but they will ask someone like Joyce:

  • Where is the time?
  • How do I make the time to do that, work on my own matters, work the partner’s cases, and see my family ?
  • How do I get to the point where the partner starts transitioning cases to other associates and junior partners because I now have a sufficient caseload of your own?

So, I ask once more: Are you giving your associates and junior partners a chance to succeed in their own right?