Career potential for "career associates/staff attorneys"

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Career potential for "career associates/staff attorneys"

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Aug 08, 2013 10:35 am

So, I have an offer for a Career Associate position at a V20 in a major Northeastern city. The position appeals to me since it is in a practice area that I am very interested in (transactional, not litigation) and the pay is decent and the job sounds like something where I could definitely learn something and enhance my skill set. I have even heard some people say that the work is not going to be that much different from what a regular first or second year associate would do. So, overall this sounds like a deal that would be acceptable for a year or two.

However, I do not want to be in this position forever and would very likely want to move on into a "real" position, whether that be in-house somewhere, or an associate position with a big or solid small firm.

I have not found all that much on what the career potential for these positions is? Anyone have anecdotal evidence on whether this may actually lead to a more desirable job eventually? How bad is the reputational damage, assuming that one only does this for a year or two?

My own thinking on the reputational aspect is: how bad can it really be? Given the types of jobs that 2013 grads are looking at that struck out at biglaw/clerkships, this career associate position sounds just as desirable as any other small firm job or some fellowship.

Any input appreciated!


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Re: Career potential for "career associates/staff attorneys"

Postby lolwat » Thu Aug 08, 2013 10:55 am

As desirable as some "other small firm job or some fellowship" maybe.

Anywhere as desirable as being hired as a "real" associate, no.

I don't have tons of evidence, but I've spoken to legal recruiters about whether it makes sense to take a "staff attorney" job at this point in my career (very recently out of law school). The answer I got was: (1) it's a job, which is better than no job; (2) there's less job stability than being a "real" associate, as staff associates are more likely to be the first to get laid off if the firm has to downsize; (3) it's very difficult to move from a staff associate position to a real associate position at another firm.

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Re: Career potential for "career associates/staff attorneys"

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Aug 08, 2013 10:57 am

Worked on a project at my law firm that gave me access to the invoices and billing of other law firms. A few firm invoices included time for the equivalent of a "career associate" being staffed on the deal. It is 100% true that these career associates do what a regular first or second year associate do. Problem is, these career associates all had 6+ years with the firm and were STILL doing what regular first or second years do. The firm seemed to have no interest in developing their careers and I don't think they did any work that would help them on the lateral market.

I am sure some people find it possible to move from a career associate position to a normal associate position but I can't imagine it is very common or that it ever happens within the same firm.

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