As firms have expanded to other cities and even countries, the relationship among its equity holders inevitably has changed. It’s difficult to refer to a lawyer, in another office, whom you’ve never met and likely never will, as your “partner” in any but the most formal business sense. As Inigo Montoya famously observed in The Princess Bride, “You keep using that word; I do not think it means what you think it means.”
But there’s much more to new definitions of “partnership” than just semantics. The purpose and function of partners within a law firm are changing rapidly in ways that, for the most part, will seriously undermine the relevance of the position, maybe permanently. Law firm partners might even become an endangered species.
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