• Working as a staff attorney can have both benefits and detriments.
  • Worst of all for a perspective staff attorney is how he or she is could be treated as a second-class citizen by other attorneys.
  • Keep reading to see if working as a staff attorney is the correct move for you to make.

Summary: With many major law firms hiring staff attorneys more frequently, this article explores what working as a staff attorney is like and if it is worth it.

Should you work as a staff attorney? Find out in this article.


Over the past several years, I have been speaking with more and more staff attorneys inside of major law firms. They are staff attorneys and yet often are called associates, counsel, or partners on the firm's websites. The conversations I have with these attorneys tend to be quite depressing. Most of these staff attorneys face the same dilemma—they may be from top-10 law schools, yet earn as little as one-fourth of their counterparts with better titles and have major difficulties meeting expenses. Moreover, because they are staff attorneys, they have a “black mark” on their records and generally are not marketable to other major law firms as full-fledged associates, counsels, or partners:
 

“Why would we give an attorney a real title and so much more money if the attorney is willing to work without a title and so cheaply? Why would any attorney take such a job? There must be something wrong with the attorney’s work, level of commitment, and more. We prefer to hire people who are currently working as real associates, partners, and counsels inside of law firms.”


I expect this trend of hiring staff attorneys will continue. Law firms are increasingly hiring more and more staff attorneys and fewer and fewer full-fledged associates, partners, and counsels.