What's the difference between Counsel and Of Counsel?

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guano
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What's the difference between Counsel and Of Counsel?

Postby guano » Sun Jul 28, 2013 3:17 pm

Basically, a firm I'm dealing with has people who are:
Partner
Of Counsel
Counsel
Associate

I understand partner and associate. I though of counsel were people who are pretty much partner level but don't put in the same amount of hours (semi-retired, part time, etc.)
But what are Counsel? Are those lawyers who aren't on a partner track?

Ultimately, it doesn't matter, but I just want a better understanding of these titles
Thanks

RodneyRuxin
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Re: What's the difference between Counsel and Of Counsel?

Postby RodneyRuxin » Sun Jul 28, 2013 3:23 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Basically, a firm I'm dealing with has people who are:
Partner
Of Counsel
Counsel
Associate

I understand partner and associate. I though of counsel were people who are pretty much partner level but don't put in the same amount of hours (semi-retired, part time, etc.)
But what are Counsel? Are those lawyers who aren't on a partner track?

Ultimately, it doesn't matter, but I just want a better understanding of these titles
Thanks


Best. Post. Ever.

And anon to boot!

MoonDreamer
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Re: What's the difference between Counsel and Of Counsel?

Postby MoonDreamer » Sun Jul 28, 2013 3:46 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Basically, a firm I'm dealing with has people who are:
Partner
Of Counsel
Counsel
Associate

I understand partner and associate. I though of counsel were people who are pretty much partner level but don't put in the same amount of hours (semi-retired, part time, etc.)
But what are Counsel? Are those lawyers who aren't on a partner track?

Ultimately, it doesn't matter, but I just want a better understanding of these titles
Thanks


Counsel is a general term used to described a lawyer. Ex: (Counsel, you're harassing my client). It is not a law firm title.

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Magnifique1908
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Re: What's the difference between Counsel and Of Counsel?

Postby Magnifique1908 » Sun Jul 28, 2013 3:52 pm

I think OP is saying that it actually is a title in use at that particular firm.

OP, that's strange. I've never heard of that in a firm setting. I've seen Associate, Of Counsel, Special Counsel (usually people who didn't make partner for some reason, perhaps this is what Counsel refers to at that firm?) and Partner.

I really only saw Counsel in use when I worked in-house (Sr. Attorney, Counsel, Sr. Counsel, GC).

I guess it's completely possible that a firm would use Counsel since I didn't encounter the Special Counsel title until I worked at a different firm this summer. Since it's so rare, I think only members of that firm would be able to tell you what it means at that firm.

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guano
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Re: What's the difference between Counsel and Of Counsel?

Postby guano » Sun Jul 28, 2013 4:11 pm

Sorry, that was me
Those are actual titles at a V30

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electricfeel
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Re: What's the difference between Counsel and Of Counsel?

Postby electricfeel » Sun Jul 28, 2013 4:19 pm

RodneyRuxin wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Basically, a firm I'm dealing with has people who are:
Partner
Of Counsel
Counsel
Associate

I understand partner and associate. I though of counsel were people who are pretty much partner level but don't put in the same amount of hours (semi-retired, part time, etc.)
But what are Counsel? Are those lawyers who aren't on a partner track?

Ultimately, it doesn't matter, but I just want a better understanding of these titles
Thanks


Best. Post. Ever.

And anon to boot!


my god you are insufferable

RodneyRuxin
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Re: What's the difference between Counsel and Of Counsel?

Postby RodneyRuxin » Sun Jul 28, 2013 4:28 pm

electricfeel wrote:my god you are insufferable



You're right. Let me just post this and then drift off into the sunset.

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guano
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Re: What's the difference between Counsel and Of Counsel?

Postby guano » Sun Jul 28, 2013 4:57 pm

Is it safe to assume Counsel is someone who is a senior lawyer who didn't make partner (and isn't likely to) while Of Counsel is either a part-timer or semi-retired?


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Wonk
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Re: What's the difference between Counsel and Of Counsel?

Postby Wonk » Sun Jul 28, 2013 5:19 pm

Such helpful responses. I know a firm that uses those titles and counsel is a step after associate and before partner, so still on track for partner.

MoonDreamer
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Re: What's the difference between Counsel and Of Counsel?

Postby MoonDreamer » Sun Jul 28, 2013 5:26 pm

Wonk wrote:Such helpful responses. I know a firm that uses those titles and counsel is a step after associate and before partner, so still on track for partner.


how come associates are usually listed above "of counsel" on firm websites...as if they're more important...Also, I thought of counsel is not on-track for partner.

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Wonk
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Re: What's the difference between Counsel and Of Counsel?

Postby Wonk » Sun Jul 28, 2013 5:28 pm

MoonDreamer wrote:
Wonk wrote:Such helpful responses. I know a firm that uses those titles and counsel is a step after associate and before partner, so still on track for partner.


how come associates are usually listed above "of counsel" on firm websites...as if they're more important...Also, I thought of counsel is not on-track for partner.

Agreed about of counsel, just giving an anecdote about how one firm uses counsel.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: What's the difference between Counsel and Of Counsel?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sun Jul 28, 2013 5:30 pm

MoonDreamer wrote:
Wonk wrote:Such helpful responses. I know a firm that uses those titles and counsel is a step after associate and before partner, so still on track for partner.


how come associates are usually listed above "of counsel" on firm websites...as if they're more important...Also, I thought of counsel is not on-track for partner.

I have seen plenty of websites that organize it partner >> counsel >> associates.

My totally anecdotal understanding is that "of counsel" is someone who was a partner and is now semi-retired, and "counsel" is a non-partner track non-associate, but clearly different firms use the terms differently.

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Jsa725
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Re: What's the difference between Counsel and Of Counsel?

Postby Jsa725 » Sun Jul 28, 2013 5:32 pm

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Last edited by Jsa725 on Sun Oct 26, 2014 3:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Anonymous User
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Re: What's the difference between Counsel and Of Counsel?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jul 28, 2013 6:03 pm

I don't think there's any uniform distinction. Firms employ non-partner attorneys for a variety of reasons. Some are former associates who aren't partner material but who still add value to the firm (they usually don't generate business, but they have a lot of responsibility for managing deals and/or litigation). Some are laterals from the government who aren't partner material. Some are brought on for name recognition (e.g. http://www.alston.com/professionals/senator-bob-dole/). Some are former partners who have reached the mandatory retirement age.

At my firm, mostly inactive former partners are "senior counsel," former partners who remain active are "special counsel," and counsel is used otherwise.

MoonDreamer
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Re: What's the difference between Counsel and Of Counsel?

Postby MoonDreamer » Sun Jul 28, 2013 6:04 pm

Well, another factor is actual experience. I feel like if you're a few years just out of law school and you're "of counsel" instead of "associate," then that's weird. In the same sense, if you have 25 years of experience but still an associate instead of "of counsel" or "partner" then that looks bad too.

mrsmartypants
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Re: What's the difference between Counsel and Of Counsel?

Postby mrsmartypants » Sun Jul 28, 2013 6:24 pm

I researched this when my firm was considering what title to give to senior associates. As I recall, the consensus is that there is no consensus regarding usage of titles other than "associate" and "partner/shareholder."

Historically, "of counsel" has had two major uses: as an honorific for a retired partner, and as a title for an attorney who was affiliated with a firm but who also might maintain his own practice. This latter usage appeared to allow for the attorney to appear on one firm's letterhead while maintaining a separate professional identity (I don't entirely understand the rationale).

Some firms do continue to use the "of counsel" title for partner-track attorneys, but these seem to be in the minority--more commonly, this title has a terminal connotation to it, either in the case of retired partners or attorneys who aren't on the partnership track.

It was because of this connotation that my firm decided to go with "senior counsel" instead. (There was a collective sense that to connote the level of seniority we wanted to convey, the title shouldn't have "associate" in it.)

Various large firms use "counsel," "senior counsel," and "special counsel," and sometimes multiple ones of these. So far as I can tell, about the only thing one can infer from these titles with certainty is that they're somewhere between associates and partners in seniority.

To confuse matters further, some firms treat these "counsel" roles as terminal, non-partner track roles, which blurs the distinction with "of counsel" that motivated some firms to find a new title in the first place.

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FlightoftheEarls
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Re: What's the difference between Counsel and Of Counsel?

Postby FlightoftheEarls » Sun Jul 28, 2013 8:45 pm

MoonDreamer wrote:Counsel is a general term used to described a lawyer. Ex: (Counsel, you're harassing my client). It is not a law firm title.

What I am beginning to appreciate about you is that you respond with such authority:

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http://www.kirkland.com/sitecontent.cfm?contentID=220&itemID=10437

Don't ever let anyone take that swag from you!

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bk1
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Re: What's the difference between Counsel and Of Counsel?

Postby bk1 » Sun Jul 28, 2013 8:48 pm

It varies from firm to firm.

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Ludo!
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Re: What's the difference between Counsel and Of Counsel?

Postby Ludo! » Sun Jul 28, 2013 9:43 pm

MoonDreamer wrote:Well, another factor is actual experience. I feel like if you're a few years just out of law school and you're "of counsel" instead of "associate," then that's weird. In the same sense, if you have 25 years of experience but still an associate instead of "of counsel" or "partner" then that looks bad too.


I don't know who you are but you should probably stop posting in the legal employment forum

MoonDreamer
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Re: What's the difference between Counsel and Of Counsel?

Postby MoonDreamer » Sun Jul 28, 2013 9:45 pm

Ludovico Technique wrote:
MoonDreamer wrote:Well, another factor is actual experience. I feel like if you're a few years just out of law school and you're "of counsel" instead of "associate," then that's weird. In the same sense, if you have 25 years of experience but still an associate instead of "of counsel" or "partner" then that looks bad too.


I don't know who you are but you should probably stop posting in the legal employment forum


why is that?

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Ludo!
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Re: What's the difference between Counsel and Of Counsel?

Postby Ludo! » Sun Jul 28, 2013 9:47 pm

MoonDreamer wrote:
Ludovico Technique wrote:
MoonDreamer wrote:Well, another factor is actual experience. I feel like if you're a few years just out of law school and you're "of counsel" instead of "associate," then that's weird. In the same sense, if you have 25 years of experience but still an associate instead of "of counsel" or "partner" then that looks bad too.


I don't know who you are but you should probably stop posting in the legal employment forum


why is that?


Because you are retarded

MoonDreamer
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Re: What's the difference between Counsel and Of Counsel?

Postby MoonDreamer » Sun Jul 28, 2013 9:48 pm

Ludovico Technique wrote:
MoonDreamer wrote:
Ludovico Technique wrote:
MoonDreamer wrote:Well, another factor is actual experience. I feel like if you're a few years just out of law school and you're "of counsel" instead of "associate," then that's weird. In the same sense, if you have 25 years of experience but still an associate instead of "of counsel" or "partner" then that looks bad too.


I don't know who you are but you should probably stop posting in the legal employment forum


why is that?


Because you are retarded


why is that? How can I be retarded and insightful at the same time. I don't understand.

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Robespierre
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Re: What's the difference between Counsel and Of Counsel?

Postby Robespierre » Mon Jul 29, 2013 10:41 am

bk1 wrote:It varies from firm to firm.


Yah, varies totally from firm to firm.

At the firm where I paralegalled, it was basically a tax-status thing. Partner income got reported on a K-1; "Counsel" were W-2 employees; "Of Counsel" and "Senior Counsel" were neither partners nor employees ... they had individual arrangements with the firm and got paid as independent contractors on a 1099.

[The "Of Counsel" tended to be big names who got paid on the basis of business they brought in or work they did where their name might help out. The "Senior Counsel" tended to be long-time partners of the firm who had become semi-retired (sometimes voluntarily, sometimes not).]

Randomnumbers
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Re: What's the difference between Counsel and Of Counsel?

Postby Randomnumbers » Mon Jul 29, 2013 1:02 pm

MoonDreamer wrote:
Ludovico Technique wrote:
MoonDreamer wrote:
Ludovico Technique wrote:
I don't know who you are but you should probably stop posting in the legal employment forum


why is that?


Because you are retarded


why is that? How can I be retarded and insightful at the same time. I don't understand.


While I appreciate a good troll, trolling in the legal employment section to the degree that MoonDreamer does (currently sharing my nominee for worst poster of 2013 with that beargirl person) is taking it a bit too far.




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