what does 'counsel' mean at a firm?

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yogurt31
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what does 'counsel' mean at a firm?

Postby yogurt31 » Thu Jul 05, 2012 3:51 pm

as opposed to 'associate' or 'partner'?

yes, i know nothing about biglaw firms. :oops: :oops:

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fatduck
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Re: what does 'counsel' mean at a firm?

Postby fatduck » Thu Jul 05, 2012 3:53 pm

gonna vary by firm but generally means a relatively senior person who is not on a partner track

Anonymous User
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Re: what does 'counsel' mean at a firm?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jul 05, 2012 6:01 pm

Depends on firm but yeah it's usually someone senior but not going to make partner. At my firm though there are no non-equity partners so we have a number of of counsels who still may become equity partners. I've also heard of cases where of counsels are older attorneys with particular specialties who aren't going to be pushed out but aren't going to become partners either

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Re: what does 'counsel' mean at a firm?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jul 05, 2012 6:30 pm

i was told that at my summer firm it's a consolation prize for those that were close to making partner but did not.

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dingbat
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Re: what does 'counsel' mean at a firm?

Postby dingbat » Thu Jul 05, 2012 6:45 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I've also heard of cases where of counsels are older attorneys with particular specialties who aren't going to be pushed out but aren't going to become partners either

I thought Of Counsel at a corporation was someone who did not work for the firm full-time, generally at smaller firms that didn't have enough work for full-time in-house.
Am i wrong?

mrloblaw
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Re: what does 'counsel' mean at a firm?

Postby mrloblaw » Thu Jul 05, 2012 6:47 pm

dingbat wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I've also heard of cases where of counsels are older attorneys with particular specialties who aren't going to be pushed out but aren't going to become partners either

I thought Of Counsel at a corporation was someone who did not work for the firm full-time, generally at smaller firms that didn't have enough work for full-time in-house.
Am i wrong?


I think all the answers are right. 'Of counsel' seems like a nebulous term for anyone who isn't on the pyramid-shaped Associate -> Partner career track. This can include part-time attorneys, attorneys that the firm wants to keep who will never promote to partner, semi-retired attorneys, etc.

keg411
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Re: what does 'counsel' mean at a firm?

Postby keg411 » Thu Jul 05, 2012 6:59 pm

Counsel at my firm is one of two things:
1) The tier before partner; you need to make counsel before you make partner
2) People who are brought in and basically just do specialty work in a particular area

So it really depends on the firm.

IFoughtTheLaw
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Re: what does 'counsel' mean at a firm?

Postby IFoughtTheLaw » Thu Jul 05, 2012 7:06 pm

I've also seen "of counsel" for experienced senior lawyers who don't work full time. For example, one who mainly worked from home, and another who came in only a few days a week.

So, like everyone else said, people the firm thought highly of and did not want to lose, but who weren't worth sharing the firm's profits with.

I could be wrong, but I got the impression these were lifestyle decisions made by the attorneys in question, not that they could not cut it as partner.

005618502
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Re: what does 'counsel' mean at a firm?

Postby 005618502 » Thu Jul 05, 2012 7:12 pm

Of counsel at my firm are attorneys who were successful as shit in their career and we brought them in to work and bill for excessive amounts of money lol.

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Julio_El_Chavo
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Re: what does 'counsel' mean at a firm?

Postby Julio_El_Chavo » Thu Jul 05, 2012 7:21 pm

A lot of Of Counsel are extremely competent attorneys who just want better work/life balance so they carry a smaller book of business and bill fewer hours. Partners don't keep people around who aren't a net positive for the firm, so don't think for a second that Of Counsel guys aren't quality attorneys. Usually, Of Counsel are extremely useful people who got sick of the grind required to maintain partnership.

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top30man
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Re: what does 'counsel' mean at a firm?

Postby top30man » Thu Jul 05, 2012 7:28 pm

Similar to what everyone else is saying. At my firm they are one of two things: a person with a book of business but not one big enough to share with associates, or part timers that are not billing 2000 a year.

ruski
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Re: what does 'counsel' mean at a firm?

Postby ruski » Thu Jul 05, 2012 7:40 pm

Julio_El_Chavo wrote:A lot of Of Counsel are extremely competent attorneys who just want better work/life balance so they carry a smaller book of business and bill fewer hours. Partners don't keep people around who aren't a net positive for the firm, so don't think for a second that Of Counsel guys aren't quality attorneys. Usually, Of Counsel are extremely useful people who got sick of the grind required to maintain partnership.


my impression was a little different. the of counsel guys at my firm worked pretty late, pretty comparable to the rest of the guys. in fact, i was able to meet the son of one of the of counsels and he joked that i see his father more than him. i certainly don't think the position provides a very good life-balance. i got the impression it was more for guys who weren't quite good enough to be partner, but still were excellent lawyers and thus were allowed to remain. im pretty sure most of them would like to be partners if given the choice, and being of counsel was not their desired goal

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Julio_El_Chavo
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Re: what does 'counsel' mean at a firm?

Postby Julio_El_Chavo » Thu Jul 05, 2012 7:47 pm

ruski wrote:
Julio_El_Chavo wrote:A lot of Of Counsel are extremely competent attorneys who just want better work/life balance so they carry a smaller book of business and bill fewer hours. Partners don't keep people around who aren't a net positive for the firm, so don't think for a second that Of Counsel guys aren't quality attorneys. Usually, Of Counsel are extremely useful people who got sick of the grind required to maintain partnership.


my impression was a little different. the of counsel guys at my firm worked pretty late, pretty comparable to the rest of the guys. in fact, i was able to meet the son of one of the of counsels and he joked that i see his father more than him. i certainly don't think the position provides a very good life-balance. i got the impression it was more for guys who weren't quite good enough to be partner, but still were excellent lawyers and thus were allowed to remain. im pretty sure most of them would like to be partners if given the choice, and being of counsel was not their desired goal


It really depends on your firm's policy regarding associates who don't make partner. At my firm, there's a "move up or move out" type of expectation. So the Of Counsel are almost exclusively people who were once partners. It sounds like your firm lets associates hang around and become counsel or of counsel or whatever.

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Re: what does 'counsel' mean at a firm?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jul 05, 2012 8:59 pm

Many different possibilities, even within a given firm:

1. "Consolation prize". This is pretty rare, but it does happen.
2. "Part-time quasi-partner". Also rare, but there are usually a couple at every firm. People who were told they would make partner but made an active choice to instead work four days a week or get ten weeks of vacation a year or something and only be counsel. Often comes with the option of joining the partnership at some later date if the counsel desires.
3. "Specialist". Someone, usually in a specialty group (tax, benefits, real estate, sometimes T&E), but sometimes with a very specific specialty in a corporate or litigation group, in an area where there is currently no room for a new partner but where their talents are nonetheless needed and where partnership in the future may still be possible.
4. "Stepping stone". Common in some firms that have adopted a three-tier structure where one usually advances from associate to counsel after 5-7 years and then from counsel to partner (or not) after another 5-7 years. Almost unheard of in New York but more common in DC and the South.
5. "Test run". Outsider brought in who will be raised to partnership within a few years if they are successful at bringing in business but whom the firm did not want to take the risk of immediately bringing in as a partner.
6. "Retired partner". A former partner who retired (either voluntarily or because they reached the firm partnership's mandatory retirement age) but has stayed involved in the firm, usually on a part-time basis.

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Re: what does 'counsel' mean at a firm?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jul 05, 2012 11:53 pm

At my firm, "Of Counsel" are the ballers brought in to look good for clients. Ex politicians, etc.




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