Partner “Of” or Partner “In”?

The following is from reader Dan Devaney in Honolulu:

I was not able to find any discussion on your new or old site discussing partners. The usual formulation seems to be “A is a general partner of ABC.” My favored formulation is “A is a general partner in ABC.” I’ve seen at your sites some references to the latter and to “… at ABC.”

I dislike the “partner of” approach because it could be read to mean that A and ABC are partners in a separate partnership. I think “I’m Ken’s partner” is similar to “I’m a partner of Ken,” and they mean Ken and I are partners in an unnamed partnership. If “Ken” is replaced with partnership ABC, a pedantic/literal reading would seem to be that partnership ABC and I are partners in an unnamed second partnership.

The use of “in” or “at” both seem to avoid the “of” problem I identified.

If you have thoughts on this less than burning issue, I’d very much appreciate hearing them.

This isn’t exclusively a contract-drafting issue, but I thought it interesting enough to mention. My only notions: If you say that Acme is a general partner or is a limited partner of Widgetco, the adjectives general and limited preclude confusion. And perhaps “partner at” works only for individuals at law firms and the like.

Chime in if you have any ideas.

About the author

Ken Adams is the leading authority on how to say clearly whatever you want to say in a contract. He’s author of A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting, and he offers online and in-person training around the world. He’s also chief content officer of LegalSifter, Inc., a company that combines artificial intelligence and expertise to assist with review of contracts.