As I mentioned in my last week's blog I was recently made a partner at my firm. And as I also mentioned, it was a huge career accomplishment for myself. This past week I have been starting to plan for entering 2011 as a partner at my law firm. I must admit sometimes I don't think this is real, am I really a PARTNER?
I knew I would be excited to be a partner, I mean I have wanted this for several years. But what I didn't know is that I would be dealing with a ton of other emotions on top of the excitement.
I guess I was naive back in law school when I thought that partnership was this amazing world, where you didn't have any more worries, financially or professionally. The stresses of being a new associate would be washed away and life would be good. Even when I started working at my firm I would look at my partners with amazement...they seemed to have it all. I mean who wouldn't want to be their own boss?
Well, let me tell you now...that ideal world is not what it seems. Being a partner in a law firm is much more than a title. With the prestige comes the reality of what the term means.
Partnership is scary, plain and simple.
First of all, there are the financial worries. I am going from a set salary to a percentage based solely on what the firm brings in. No ceiling....no floor, just a percentage. As an employee I knew what to expect twice a month...now I have no idea. My husband and I are budgeteers....so its hard to grasp how our budget will work with this uncertainty. Now we are worried to spend any money, which of course is not the best situation to be in at Christmas.
Second, there are the worries of being "cut loose". Being a partner means no more insurance, no more tax withholding, no more bonuses, or other associate benefits. No more employer. Now I am lucky that my husband works for a union factory and therefore has excellent benefits, but still the idea of no one taking out taxes from my check scares me.
I also started to feel a certain sense of self-doubt from this news. Being a partner means that I now own my firm...a firm I truly love and am fiercely loyal to. I have always felt an attachment to my firm and the attorneys there, but now suddenly with this title to my name I feel so much more close to it. This is MY firm. And with those feelings, comes questions...am I good enough to own this firm? Can I do this? Can I stand side by side with my partners and keep my firm's reputation strong?
Since I have been made partner, it has caused me to think about everything in my career. I suddenly have a need to do my very best for this firm. I have always done my best as an associate, but now...I feel the need to do more. It's a strange feeling...just being given that name makes you want to step up your A game.
And with all these feelings of course comes the great worry of how is this going to effect my family. Will partnership change me? Will it change my family? Will it make it harder for me to balance my life? I mean now there is so much more "weight" placed on the work side of my life scale. Can I still balance everything?
I think its funny how when you are an adult, the greatest events of your life always come with some added stress and worry. Maybe it's a sort of the "there's no such thing as a free lunch" principle. Take for example when I was pregnant for the first time with my daughter. I had never been happier, I was so excited that I was going to be a Mom, the one thing I had wanted most in my life. But in the midst of my excitement came the worry about being a good Mom. Or how about the happiness I felt on my wedding day. I was so excited to marry the man of my dreams, but as I put on my veil and did my makeup that morning, I wondered to myself, will we live happily ever after? Is our love strong enough to survive 50 plus years?
So as adults all the good things in life come with some "bad". It's almost like the stress is the price we pay for our happiness. I must admit I miss being a child when the good things in life came without an ounce of worry or an inch of fear. You could just be happy and enjoy your good times...you just saw the big picture, not the details!
But at 32, I'm well past those days. Now the greatest things in my life come with the worry, the stress, the zillion questions. But you know what...its all worth it. I realize that this partnership must really be a good thing, because everything that I have gotten that has been amazing in my life: marriage, children, etc. all came with this worry. So maybe my worry, my questions, my doubts about this new phase in my life just means that it is going to be amazing!
So buckle up...because ready or not here it comes!