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September 01, 2011


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Gee. I might know a firm or two that fit this model. You might know one of them also Michelle.

I talked with another firm earlier this week, and it's exactly what you are saying here. We've done such a good job in our profession of giving work to others in our firm, that we've burnt out all our 5-10 year staff who might have a future as a partner and given them to industry.

Thanks for the information.


Spot on, Michelle! But I think things are even more dire for the junior than you portray in this post. I know these folks as well. The junior tends to be 8 - 12 years younger than the partner. At some point, the partner starts to wind down, or maybe has not kept up with trends or technology, or is starting to lose his or her marketing edge. The firm starts looking around at who is profitable and sees junior, who has had steady billables but doesn't create any work for anyone more junior than they are. The firm sees a gap in the pyramid structure that they rely on for their big draws. Plus, they could probably hire a more junior person to serve the partner and pay them less. Junior gets forced out and doesn't even understand what he or she did wrong. They worked so hard for that firm for so many years!

Michelle Golden

@Rod, so true. Sometimes several examples in a single firm. It's not intentional, just a predicament that occurs very easily in our current business model, especially where marketing is not taught and encouraged early in every young professional's career. The way this post is speeding around the interwebz, I think it is resonating with a LOT of people.

@Eric, your scenario rings true, also. I have seen that happen more than once. Being "marketable" now means even more than ever because we need to continually make sure we are valuable even when we have a job. As we've seen so much in cuts of recent years, even partners aren't assured security when firms are paring back.

I don't want it to seem all bleak, just to reinforce the importance of personal responsibility in shaping our own careers so we don't just find ourselves, ten or 20 years later, in a position we never meant to be in. What is flattering, at first, isn't always best in the long run.

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