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Author Topic: Law firm job titles  (Read 6850 times)

GoldiLawks

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Law firm job titles
« on: October 19, 2007, 10:32:09 PM »
What does it mean to be Counsel? Is it an intermediate step in between Associate and Partner?

oscarsonthepond

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Re: Law firm job titles
« Reply #1 on: October 20, 2007, 12:18:12 AM »
Depends on the firm, but the one firm I've talked to about it said it's basically when someone has been there a long time but isn't partner material.  So if you're in your 14th year but you just want to work the minimum hours and you don't have a book of business, you'd be Counsel.  I think some firms call this Of Counsel as well...although I think Of Counsel is more frequently used to refer to mostly-retired partners and/or part-time would-be partners.

craven

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Re: Law firm job titles
« Reply #2 on: October 20, 2007, 10:27:57 AM »
Of Counsel or Counsel is also used if someone laterals into a firm that won't let you lateral in as a partner.  In that case, they would be of counsel for a year or so before going before the partner committee. 

jacy85

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Re: Law firm job titles
« Reply #3 on: October 21, 2007, 03:32:55 PM »
No matter how they became "of counsel" (either partners who "retire" or partners who lateral into a firm that doesn't automatically make them partners), "of counsel" usually refers to an attorney at the partner level who, for whatever reason, does NOT have an ownership share of the firm.

legapp

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Re: Law firm job titles
« Reply #4 on: November 11, 2007, 02:39:25 PM »
The above posts are correct, but I would add that at some places, "counsel" refers to people who are upper-level associates on the partnership track.  I think one of the lit shops (Boies or Quinn) used this structure.

jeffislouie

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Re: Law firm job titles
« Reply #5 on: November 11, 2007, 04:25:03 PM »
In smaller firms, 'of counsel' attorneys are retired judges or semi-retired lawyers.  Brilliant in their field, but not all that interested in hunting business.
I knew a few guys that were brought on temporarily to consult on a case or to second chair.
I've also heard the other explanations.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Of_counsel
American Bar Association Formal Opinion 90-357 provides four acceptable definitions of the term:

A part-time practitioner who practices law in association with a firm, but on a basis different from that of the mainstream lawyers in the firm. Such part-time practitioners are sometimes lawyers who have decided to change from a full-time practice, either with that firm or with another, to a part-time one, or sometimes lawyers who have changed careers entirely, as for example former judges or government officials.
A retired partner of the firm who, although not actively practicing law, nonetheless remains associated with the firm and available for occasional consultation.
A lawyer who is, in effect, a probationary partner-to-be: usually a lawyer brought into the firm laterally with the expectation of becoming partner after a relatively short period of time.
A permanent status in between those of partner and associate, having the quality of tenure, or something close to it, and lacking that of an expectation of likely promotion to full partner status.

Justice is tangy....

jd2bee

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Re: Law firm job titles
« Reply #6 on: November 12, 2007, 04:52:59 PM »
No matter how they became "of counsel" (either partners who "retire" or partners who lateral into a firm that doesn't automatically make them partners), "of counsel" usually refers to an attorney at the partner level who, for whatever reason, does NOT have an ownership share of the firm.

I think that at big firms, "Of Counsel" are definitely not considered to be "at the partner level" except in terms of years having worked at the firm.  At most large firms, "Of Counsel" are typically the folks that usually have no chance at becoming partners (haven't build their own client base, socially inept, rubbed people the wrong way, etc.).  Often people will leave after becoming "of counsel" in hopes of lateralling somewhere else where they can become partner. People who are partially retired partners or partners who have gone part-time are often called Senior Counsel or something like that.

Also, note that at many firms, especially large firms, there are 2 different levels of partners. Non-equity, or "income partners" don't have an ownership share of the firm while equity partners do hold a share of the firm.

jacy85

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Re: Law firm job titles
« Reply #7 on: November 12, 2007, 11:05:11 PM »
No matter how they became "of counsel" (either partners who "retire" or partners who lateral into a firm that doesn't automatically make them partners), "of counsel" usually refers to an attorney at the partner level who, for whatever reason, does NOT have an ownership share of the firm.

I think that at big firms, "Of Counsel" are definitely not considered to be "at the partner level" except in terms of years having worked at the firm.  At most large firms, "Of Counsel" are typically the folks that usually have no chance at becoming partners (haven't build their own client base, socially inept, rubbed people the wrong way, etc.).  Often people will leave after becoming "of counsel" in hopes of lateralling somewhere else where they can become partner. People who are partially retired partners or partners who have gone part-time are often called Senior Counsel or something like that.

Also, note that at many firms, especially large firms, there are 2 different levels of partners. Non-equity, or "income partners" don't have an ownership share of the firm while equity partners do hold a share of the firm.

Ok - that's not how it is at 2 of the firms I've worked at...but then again, I haven't worked at "most" firms, I guess.