Associate to Senior Associate

Written by Thomas Eckardt on 17th May, 2017 ·

Making the transition from Associate to Senior Associate is clearly set out in every law firm. Everyone knows the path and how that will the lead into partnership… … … … If you don’t, please get in contact with me at

Hopefully, the above statement is actually true for you. However, if, like 90% of associates, the statement isn’t true then please read on as we have listed some of the things that firms look for in their Senior Associates. Start working to tick these off and you are closer to being made-up. The next hurdle is clearing up the fog that surrounds the path to partnership.

Billable targets

It should come as no surprise that firms place high importance on billable targets. Your ability to show consistently high billables is the most empirical way to show your value to the firm. Obviously, this is not only in your control: if the firm isn’t busy enough to utilise you fully then you are not going to hit your targets, you may have been on secondment, you may be managing other processes. However, if it is because the firm isn’t busy enough then it could be a sign that its time to look for another practice that can support more seniors.


Many firms have a requirement that you have achieved at least a minimal level of post admission experience (which makes sense). You should be able to find this out by asking HR.


One of the big changes as you get more senior, in any role, is the ability to mentor juniors at the same time as doing your day job. Prove to a firm that you are able to manage a high work load and also develop junior lawyers will help when it comes to review time.

Contributing to Knowledge

Any work that contributes to the firms overall knowledge bank is going to be rewarded. Pro-active contribution is ideal. If you can contribute to knowledge, while managing work load, and mentoring juniors, then you are both super-human and a sure thing for that SA title.

Business Development

This isn’t always a factor. However, if you can win business for the firm then you are several steps ahead of your peers at this level. The ability to win clients is often a selection criteria for partnership.

Internal profile

You need to build up your internal profile so that partners are aware of how good you are. Ideally they will already assume that you are a Senior Associate. This internal profile is a soft skill that is hard to master, especially if you are not a natural extrovert. However, if you master this now then it is one less thing to master when you push on to partnership.

If you have any further questions please get in contact via or on 02 9043 8734.