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Top 10 difference between staff attorney and associate That Will Change Your Life

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orneys Are Treated As Second-Class Lawyers At Some Firms

When most people think of law firm associates, they think of the traditional, partnership-track junior attorneys to which all of us are accustomed. These attorneys are incorporated into the fabric of a firm, and if they perform well enough, they may someday be promoted to counsel or even partner. However, many firms have staff attorney positions or nonpartnership track associates who are not treated the same as traditional associates. Law firms often hire such attorneys in order to save money, have staff perform work on a temporary basis, or for other reasons. Nevertheless, staff attorneys are often treated like second-class lawyers at many firms, and shops should try not to create different tiers of lawyers at their firms.

One of the biggest ways that staff attorneys are treated worse than traditional associates is in their rate of pay. Staff attorneys typically make far less money than traditional associates, and in certain circumstances, they can make half or less the amount that traditional associates earn at a firm. Employers sometimes argue that staff attorneys are not expected to work as hard as traditional associates or devote time to business development and other efforts, and this reasoning helps firms justify why they pay staff attorneys less money. Of course, some staff attorneys who work through temp agencies and similar arrangements can ensure that they do not work a substantial number of hours. In such circumstances, it might make sense to pay such lawyers less.

However, many staff attorneys are paid a salary, and their hours are not tightly regulated. As a result, it is not uncommon to see staff attorneys work just as hard or even harder than traditional associates. This demonstrates that firms simply create staff attorney positions to save money and not for the allegedly benign purpose of creating an opportunity for attorneys to work less and accordingly be paid less. Moreover, many law firms permit traditional associates to adopt a reduced workload and be paid a proportionate share of their associate salary. As such, if firms really wanted to create lighter workloads for some lawyers, they would simply adopt this approach for all lawyers employed at a shop.

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Another way staff attorneys are treated differently than traditional associates is the resources offered to them by a firm. Many associates are permitted to attend conferences, learn from training seminars, and pursue other activities to grow professionally. This may require a significant expense on a firm’s part, but firms can justify this by pointing to the professional development obtained by the attorney who will hopefully stay at a firm and apply new skills to their work.

In my experience, staff attorneys are rarely offered the chance to attend professional development events. This is very unfortunate because staff attorneys sometimes stay at firms for long periods of time and they can apply any new skills they learn to their work. Moreover, staff attorneys may be more likely to go out of pocket to pay for CLE expenses and other costs since firms are not paying for the types of programs that typically cover this requirement.

Perhaps the most heartbreaking thing about staff attorneys is that they are frequently not considered full members of the lawyer community at a firm. Staff attorneys often do not attend associates’ retreats and other functions held for lawyers at a firm. Moreover, staff attorneys usually do not sit on partner-associate committees, which may mean that they have less of a voice when it comes to working at a firm. In addition, staff attorneys are often not invited to many social events at a firm. Indeed, I have worked at firms where staff attorneys were not even invited to certain holiday functions hosted by a shop.

All of these differences may generate an aura that staff attorneys are second-class lawyers at a firm, which is really unfair. All of the staff attorneys I ever worked with were extremely competent and dedicated to their jobs. Most had become staff attorneys not because they were interested in a lower salary or potentially less work, but because there were no other jobs available. Lawyers of all kinds are part of the same profession and have many shared experiences. It is not right for some lawyers to be treated as second-class attorneys at certain firms.

Ideally, law firms would not have separate tracks for lawyers, but in some situations, hiring temporary lawyers or attorneys that have less responsibilities is unavoidable because of short-term projects and the type of work to be completed. However, law firms should be much more aware about how they treat staff attorneys. Such lawyers should be afforded more professional development opportunities, especially since many staff attorneys stay at firms for extended periods of time and could apply any new skills they learn to their work. Moreover, staff attorneys should be incorporated into the social and professional fabric of a law firm. Staff attorneys are lawyers just like traditional associates of a law firm and administrators should treat them more like how they treat other attorneys at a shop.


Jordan Rothman is a partner of The Rothman Law Firm, a full-service New York and New Jersey law firm. He is also the founder of Student Debt Diaries, a website discussing how he paid off his student loans. You can reach Jordan through email at jordan@rothmanlawyer.com.

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Staff Attorneys Are Treated As Second-Class Lawyers At ...

Staff Attorneys Are Treated As Second-Class Lawyers At …

  • Author: abovethelaw.com

  • Rating: 4⭐ (2021 rating)

  • Highest Rate: 5⭐

  • Lowest Rate: 2⭐

  • Sumary: Staff attorneys are lawyers just like traditional associates of a law firm and administrators should treat them more like how they treat other attorneys at a shop.

  • Matching Result: Staff attorneys are lawyers just like traditional associates of a law firm and administrators should treat them more like how they treat other …

  • Intro: Staff Attorneys Are Treated As Second-Class Lawyers At Some Firms When most people think of law firm associates, they think of the traditional, partnership-track junior attorneys to which all of us are accustomed. These attorneys are incorporated into the fabric of a firm, and if they perform well enough, they…
  • Source: https://abovethelaw.com/2021/03/staff-attorneys-are-treated-as-second-class-lawyers-at-some-firms/

Comparing different firm programs | NYC Bar

Comparing different firm programs | NYC Bar

  • Author: nycbar.org

  • Rating: 4⭐ (2021 rating)

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  • Sumary: Learn about applying to staff attorney programs at New York firms and about comparing different firm programs.

  • Matching Result: At the other end of the spectrum, a Staff Attorney may be a former Associate doing high level work who has chosen to transfer into a Staff Attorney position in …

  • Intro: Comparing different firm programs Q: I am interested in applying to staff attorney programs at New York firms but am not sure how to go about doing so since it is not always clear which firms have them. I have also heard that most staff attorney positions are filled by…
  • Source: https://www.nycbar.org/comparing-different-firm-programs

Why Law Firms Are Hiring More and More Staff Attorneys

Why Law Firms Are Hiring More and More Staff Attorneys

  • Author: bcgsearch.com

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  • Sumary: This article explores what working as a staff attorney is like and if it is worth it.

  • Matching Result: They are staff attorneys and yet often are called associates, counsel, or partners on the firm’s websites. The conversations I have with …

  • Intro: Why Law Firms Are Hiring More and More Staff Attorneys: Should You Work as a Staff Attorney? Last Updated: Jun 15, 2022 Rate this article 1670 Reviews Average: 3.9 out of 5 Working as a staff attorney can have both benefits and detriments. Worst of all for a perspective staff…
  • Source: https://www.bcgsearch.com/article/900047951/Why-Law-Firms-Are-Hiring-More-and-More-Staff-Attorneys-Should-You-Work-as-a-Staff-Attorney/

Profile of a Staff Attorney | LHH

Profile of a Staff Attorney | LHH

  • Author: lhh.com

  • Rating: 4⭐ (2021 rating)

  • Highest Rate: 5⭐

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  • Sumary: “Staff Attorney” is a catch-all phrase describing lawyers who dedicate their services to a specific organization. This may include a corporation, government entity, academic institution, or not-for-profit. Law firm attorneys, in contrast, typically serve many clients who retain them to handle matters that are…

  • Matching Result: “Staff Attorney” is a catch-all phrase describing lawyers who dedicate their services to a specific organization. This may include a corporation, government …

  • Intro: Profile of a Staff AttorneyWhat is a Staff Attorney?“Staff Attorney” is a catch-all phrase describing lawyers who dedicate their services to a specific organization. This may include a corporation, government entity, academic institution, or not-for-profit. Law firm attorneys, in contrast, typically serve many clients who retain them to handle matters…
  • Source: https://www.lhh.com/us/en/insights/profile-of-a-staff-attorney/

Staff Attorney: What Is It? and How to Become One?

Staff Attorney: What Is It? and How to Become One?

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Frequently Asked Questions About difference between staff attorney and associate

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What is the legal echelons system?

For instance, there will be lawyers of various statuses and ranks within a law firm’s professional services class, with equity partners at the top, associates in the middle, and contract lawyers at the bottom.

What distinguishes a partner from an associate attorney?

Because a law firm partner has some ownership in the firm where they work, which puts them in a high position in the organization’s hierarchy, this may be the most obvious distinction between a partner and an associate in the legal profession.

After associate attorney, what?

*Associates Before moving up to the partnership ranks or “making partner,” attorneys typically work as associates for six to nine years. This transition is based on a number of variables, including the associate’s legal expertise, clientele, earning potential, and compatibility with the firm’s other partners.

Which legal profession pays the highest salaries?

Patent and IP attorneys assist creators and business owners in obtaining patents to safeguard their innovations and pursue legal action against those who violate their clients’ patent and intellectual property rights.

What level of lawyer is the lowest?

The paralegal profession is a wise choice for those who are interested in law but don’t want to invest the time, money, and effort in attending law school and passing the bar exam. In the United States, paralegals are not required to have a formal education.

Are associates more important than attorneys?

The typical career path for a lawyer in private practice is from summer clerk (during your penultimate year of law school), to graduate lawyer, to associate, to senior associate, to partner, with senior equity partner being the highest level a lawyer can achieve.

What does the term “associate attorney” mean?

Associate attorneys typically start out under the guidance of an experienced attorney, assisting with cases and writing reports. They are lawyers who typically have little to no experience in the field; many are just out of law school and developing their careers.

What legal specialty has the lowest pay?

Legal Aid Attorney These are public interest jobs that many lawyers get a lot of satisfaction out of, even if they don’t make a lot of money. Legal Aid attorneys provide advice to people who cannot afford to pay for their own lawyer.

What do the top 1% of attorneys earn?

The highest-paid attorneys in the US earn over 08,000 annually, accounting for 10% of the legal workforce, while the top 1% of attorneys earn 00,000 or more annually, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What is a lawyer’s lowest level of employment?

Associate attorney positions are frequently the first entry-level positions to be obtained after law school.

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