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The 3 main types of Partner in a Big 4 firm

When you play to your strengths you become much more successful. Typically there are three different types of partner. When you know your key strengths you can work towards becoming the right type of partner for your talents and strengths. In this blog post Heather Townsend shares an exclusive extract from the 2nd edition of ‘How to make partner and still have a life’ (Click here for a free sample chapter) and explores the 3 main types of partner in a Big 4 firm.

The 3 different types of partner

Partners typically split into three types:

Rainmakers: These have a reputation for being very skilled at winning new work.

Leaders: These are given specific leadership and managerial responsibilities for running part or all of the firm.

Technical specialists: These have a deep level of technical expertise in a particular specialism, which is of strategic importance to the firm.

Most firms, regardless of their size, have now recognized that their partners need to be well-rounded individuals who can first and foremost develop their own client portfolio. Consequently, it is now extremely rare for a professional to make partner purely based on their technical expertise. Many firms have created a new job role, e.g. “Legal Director”, “Principal”, to enable them to retain their prized technical specialists who do not have the capability to make partner.

Being a partner solely based on your technical expertise means that you may be more vulnerable – changes in the legal framework, marketplace or technology can wipe out the requirement for your technical expertise. For example, the recession after the 2008–09 UK property market crash caused a severe contraction in the business available to property specialists, such as corporate financiers, property lawyers and tax specialists. The senior and expensive property professionals who were weak business developers were the first people to lose their jobs in the recession.

How to Make Partner and Still Have a Life 2nd editionGet your copy of the 2nd edition of How to make partner and still have a life

To get your copy of How to make partner and still have a life at a 20% discount, use code HTMPG20 at the checkout on the Kogan Page website. Click on the image buy your copy


This article originally appeared in a different form on the How To Make Partner website.


Heather Townsend helps professionals become the The Go-To Expert. She is the author of the  award winning and best-selling book on business networking, the ‘FT Guide To Business Networking’, Poised for partnership and the co-author of ‘How to make partner and still have a life’, and ‘The Go-To Expert’. Over the last decade she has worked with over 300 partners; coached, trained and mentored over 2000 professionals at every level of the UK’s most ambitious professional practices. 


Heather blogs regularly at How to make partner and still have a life and works with future and current Big 4 partners and professionals from mid-tier firms all over the world.

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