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I occasionally see the designation “staff attorney” listed for law firm positions; what are the pros/cons?

Q: I occasionally see the designation “staff attorney” listed for law firm positions. It is my understanding these are full-time positions, but not tracked in terms of movement from associate to partner. Is this understanding accurate? What else should I know about the “staff attorney” designation? What are the pros/cons of such a position?

A: You’re right that “staff attorney” is a non-partnership track role. It may also mean you get rather routine assignments, sometimes reserved for very junior lawyers. It is also a title used in sectors other than private practice, as well.

That said, there isn’t really a one-size-fits all usage of staff attorneys: each workplace treats the designation a bit differently, so you’d have to examine each, either through someone you know in a workplace or after you apply and are contacted by the prospective employer. If you are more senior, and do want to apply, you might indicate in your cover note that you are interested in the opportunity and in contributing meaningfully to their work and their clients.