The rule still very broadly works for most types of transactional law but can become distorted in your favour by a host of factors including: strategic need, synergy and potential with existing or target firm clients, ability to enhance or protect existing panel appointments, how soon your clients will generate cashflow, your own industry ranking, and whether or not you have any trophy clients.
Your practice area can also work in your favour significantly reducing, or even eliminating, your need for a following.
In the UK, traditional corporate support practice areas such as non-contentious financial services, pensions, and corporate tax rarely require ratios of 3:1.
Moreover, the level of certainty required in some practice areas, such as commercial litigation, tends to be far less than that of mainstream corporate thanks to the non-repeat nature of this work.
I suspect that by this stage in your career it has dawned on you that, in the business of practising law, technical excellence, a brilliant legal mind, and a good reputation are not as fungible a commodity as cold hard client contacts.
Whilst the above are rarely mutually exclusive, for most partners your market value and ongoing job security is primarily derived from your book of business.
Almost without exception you will need to prepare a business plan.
Remember, most firms’ partnerships, particularly full equity, require that you are voted in by a cross section of the equity partners at the firm.
As many a bemused London-based US hiring partner is aware, this latter example is in stark contrast to the United States where commercial litigation clients are as portable as those in mainstream corporate.
Against this your following can be discounted in the following circumstances: where it is overly reliant on one or two relationships, requires significant personnel support, introduces potential conflicts, or your clients are viewed as brand contaminants (for example by requiring discounted rates or providing commoditised, albeit profitable, work).