Think Like a Partner

As a young associate, I was advised to “think like a partner.” As I reflect on my career thus far, having now become a partner at Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP, I realize just how poignant that advice really was, and how it shaped my approach to my own career.

When I say that associates should “think like a partner,” that does not mean to act pretentious or arrogant, but instead refers to adopting an ownership or growth mindset over your career. First, take ownership over your own career, and speak up and advocate for yourself. As the product of an immigrant family, I was taught to put my head down and focus simply on doing good work. My parents did not want me to make waves or assert myself too much, and they thought that my merits would speak for themselves. However, a successful career in the legal field also requires proactive participation, leadership and self-determination. Being proactive means not only becoming a better advocate for yourself, but also a better advocate for your clients by anticipating their needs and offering proactive solutions to their problems, rather than waiting for a more senior attorney to provide direction.

Second, thinking like a partner means investing in the collective success of your colleagues, clients, and the firm as a whole, because you care about the overall success of the endeavor and have a personal stake in growing the business. Internalizing this idea also results in a natural shift to focusing on mentoring the more junior lawyers in the firm. Because successful firms attract and retain exceptional talent, focusing on the wellbeing and career trajectories of the attorneys around you creates a team mentality and a stronger law firm. Shifting to this growth mindset early in my career has allowed me to incorporate these important ideas into my own practice, contributed to my success, and allows me to pay it forward and serve as a mentor to other young lawyers.

And finally, when you think like a partner, you make the most of every resource and opportunity presented, whether from an educational or networking standpoint. Looking back over my career to this point, I now realize that training myself to “think like a partner” helped me to become one.