Find out what class divisions and hierarchies usually exist within major law firms in this article.

Who Ranks Highest in a Law Firm?
  • The King, which is the Managing Partner (or law firm CEO) at the top. This is the person who is the face of the Kingdom and who is held out as being in charge.
  • Nobles, who are the other partners and have “land” (i.e., own a percentage of the firm). The land that nobles had under their control would be equivalent to the percentage of a law firm received by equity partners. Very few people are made equity partners in large law firms, and the equity partner is a rarified position.
  • Knights (the salaried associates, income partners, and counsel attorneys in the firm). The salaried attorneys in the firm are very respected for the work that they do. The very best knights and the ones who make the largest sacrifice for the nobles, over the longest period, can become nobles, but it is rare that this ever occurs.
  • The Guilds (accounting, human resources, and their junior helpers and assistants, staff attorneys, paralegals, and other professionals in the firm). In the largest kingdoms, there were always more guilds and more assistants and helpers in the guilds. The same thing goes for law firms. In the largest law firms, there are more and more professional guilds to service the kingdom, and they are developing all the time.
  • Serfs. The serfs were bound to the land in medieval society and were like slaves. Serfs might be considered the people without significant professional skills inside of a law firm (break room help, people in the copy room, filing assistants, receptionists, and so forth), but who are employed by the law firm full time.
  • Peasants. Peasants were free and sometimes had skills, but often did not. The peasants inside of a law firm would be contractors who do things like clean up the trash, as well as people brought in for short-term assignments such as contract attorneys, contract secretaries, and contract paralegals. They are the lowest status because they have no attachment or ongoing permanent relationship with the firm.

There is a great deal of emphasis today on the importance of diversity and inclusion within law firms. This is a very important issue and merits substantial discussion. But one aspect of the issue that is rarely discussed—and should be—relates to divisions and inequality between attorneys and staff within law firms.