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Author Topic: What does "Of Counsel" really mean?  (Read 45566 times)


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What does "Of Counsel" really mean?
« on: January 30, 2009, 11:03:13 AM »
If your not a partner or an associate what does it mean to be "Of Counsel"?

How is that role different? Do they just kind of come around to be of counsel every once and a while or what?

I always thought that they were all just really old, retired partners that were consulted from time to time but I have been seeing a lot of younger attorneys being "Of Counsel"...


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Re: What does "Of Counsel" really mean?
« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2009, 11:06:17 AM »
It can mean a variety of things. Basically, any time the firm has hired a lawyer that does not fit squarely into the traditional partner or associate role. A few examples:

1. A non-equity partner. Basically an associate who they didn't like enough to make partner, but thought was useful enough to keep around. Too senior for the "associate" label. Some firms don't have non equity partners so they can't just call them partners.

2. A lawyer the firm consults with on an occasional basis. For example, many professors are "of counsel" at firms.

3. A semi-retired lawyer (often who retired from another firm) who wants to work on an occasional or part time basis.

4. A lawyer hired for a special purpose other than billing hours. Perhaps someone with certain political connections, etc. But not working enough for the firm to justify "partner" status. 
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Re: What does "Of Counsel" really mean?
« Reply #2 on: January 30, 2009, 11:45:17 AM »
Yeah, at the firm I was at you had an initial vote on partner after 8 years and then a final vote after 10 years.  If you failed either vote you were normally given a chance to stay on board as "of counsel."  Also, I think you could pick after 5 years whether you even wanted to pursue the partner track, and if you chose not to, you could immediately gain "of counsel" and not be so tied down to minimum billable hours.