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Partner Track: The Top Characteristics of High-Performing Associates

Top associates work longer, harder and smarter. They network and build a client base. They earn. But in an environment where even brilliant lawyers are passed over for promotions, the key to rising in the ranks often remains an elusive mystery. While no one has a magic formula for making partner, some of the key characteristics of the highest performing associates include:

Strategic thinking

Success in a legal matter often hinges upon the strength of the initial strategy. Where does strategic insight come from? Instinct and experience form the foundation, to be sure, but technology can focus and sharpen those assets into game-changing tools. A strategic thinking attorney aided by an advanced tool like Thomson Reuters Westlaw Edge™ can quickly identify trends, opportunities and warning signs that may otherwise go unnoticed. Westlaw Edge harnesses the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to answer questions about case law, statute changes and other critical issues at lightning speeds. A top associate’s strategic acumen, amplified by state-of-the-art technology, gets noticed.


When you’re advising a client on a legal matter or conducting research for a firm partner you simply can’t afford to be wrong. AI-enabled research can quickly provide you with answers, but are they the right answers? Westlaw Edge’s algorithms are built upon a foundation of more than 140 years of editorial expertise. Hundreds of attorney editors continuously evaluate and update the content to ensure its accuracy and relevance. Associates with accurate and up-to-date information at their fingertips become a trusted voice within a law firm.


The above characteristics point to a larger and perhaps more decisive theme—revenue generation. While billable hours remain a key metric, they are only part of the equation. High-performing associates must demonstrate that they are bringing in revenue and will continue to do so. Impressive billable hours lose their luster when dissatisfied clients ask for write-offs because they think certain tasks took too long. By maximizing efficiency with the aid of AI-enabled research, you can rack up not only billable hours, but also satisfied clients, putting your revenue-generating potential on full display for the firm’s key decision makers.

Talent, education and tenacity make for good attorneys, but are they enough to prevail in today’s ultra-competitive partner track? Learn more about how advanced research tools are helping top associates gain an edge over their peers.

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