With all due respect, you are all missing the point. The problem is not what you call non-partners, or how you recruit them, or train them, or whether they exist at all. The problem is the partnership itself.
I attended a conference last year in which a panel was discussing how they would design a firm if they were starting from scratch today. Over an hour into the conversation someone asked, “What about a Limited Liability Partnership of owners?” Two of the three panelists were partners in their firms, but when everyone was done laughing, they all agreed that partnership is a terrible business model and no one would build a firm that way today if given the choice.
Look at the new Alternative Business Structures in the UK and Australia, that allow firms to pursue outside investors and allow non-attorneys to be owners. Admittedly, I haven’t been following too closely, but I haven’t heard of any investors clamoring to stick their money in traditional LLP law firms. If you look at new firms, and non-firms providing legal services, that are nipping at the heels of BigLaw, how many of them have a partnership structure? Why would they? How much time does Axiom spend trying to figure out what to call their non-partner-track attorneys?
Maybe the reason we are struggling to define non-partners, is because Partnership itself is limiting way beyond just liability.
OK. I’m ready to take my beating now…