Q&A SPECIAL: FROM JUNIOR PATENT ATTORNEY TO PARTNER IN FIVE YEARS
7 December 2016, Written by Paris Faint
SOME legal professionals might find it farfetched that a junior lawyer could make partner in under five years, considering many spend decades trying to kick the same goal.
In the case of Cullens Partner Brad Postma, he not only achieved the impossible, but he's now written a book designed to help others do the same.
Through his book 'Junior to Partner in Under 5 Years', Postma passes his experience onto a budding generation of lawyers.
Brisbane Legal caught up with the first-time author to talk about his own rise through the ranks, the five-year partnership concept, and whether it's a goal that any lawyer has the potential to reach.
What inspired you to write the book?
I had a rough transition into professional services from an engineering background, so I wanted to write the book that I wish I had been handed when I first started in the profession.
My main reason was to help people integrate into the professional services environment more efficiently so they can transition quicker, and don't suffer the same pitfalls that myself and others have suffered.
Why the five-year concept?
The book is based on my personal story, as I made it from junior to partner in under five years.
It's not a guarantee that anyone can make it to the same place, but it's an indication that if the environment is right and you have the right set of techniques it can be done. I've never really been the brightest or hardest working patent attorney, but I have proved the principles of the book do work.
Firms have their own cultures, and individuals have their own requirements not all firms and individuals are a good fit. In order to succeed in any firm, you have to be with the right one that suits you best.
In the book, I've outlined some different identifying cultures and the difference between larger and smaller firms it enables people to go in with their eyes wide open.
The key is to do your homework, and to make sure you're going into the right environment for you. Also, if you find yourself stuck in the wrong firm it's better to leave earlier rather than later.
Another thing is to really learn the techniques and skills of the profession.
What a lot of people don't realise is that no one holds your hand when you go into professional services, gives you a big cuddle and says 'this is how it's done'. You have to learn by mistakes and osmosis.
The way you want to learn is to be given a blueprint or strategy, and that's what I offer in this book a light hearted easy read where I try to provide examples of a framework to succeed that people can relate to.
Do you think younger lawyers realise there's more to the job than the regular nine-to-five?
I think it's a generational thing. In my experience, there has been a fundamental shift. I'm the last of Generation X we had a different mindset to work, rather than the newer generations who have more of a focus on lifestyle.
There's a bit of a clash because all the older people and partners have a mindset as to what they had to do to become partners and they have the same expectations of their juniors but the juniors have a different idea about what they want.
There's definitely been a shift in the way that firms operate. There has been a shift in legal services in general.
What do you think is the biggest thing holding people back from progression?
The number one thing that hampers people from progressing is the ability to find new work. For most professionals, there is there is two components to building a successful practice.
The first is that you need to grind out the work, which I think most people do well but the real trick when times are tough is to find new work.
If you had to condense a message from your book and pass it on to a younger version of yourself, what would it be?
The message I would give to myself is to have a clear plan for partnership rather than bumbling through your career without any clear direction as to where you are headed. It's important at the early stage to have some strategy for where you want to be in five years' time.
Quite often when you sit in an interview, people will ask 'what's your five-year plan?' I think we all need a five-year plan. It goes beyond the interview stage.
Brad's book 'Junior to Partner in Under 5 Years' is available in paperback and ebook formats through most major online bookstores including Amazon.
Author: Paris Faint