Dothan, AL Law Blog

Monday, May 27, 2019

What is an Of Counsel Attorney?

When you first think about a law firm, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Often, many of us think about associates or partners within the firm. Associates are attorneys who are paid as employees, and partners are senior attorneys with a financial stake in the firm. Do you know, however, what an “of counsel” attorney is? Many people have heard the term, but are mostly unfamiliar with what exactly an “of counsel” attorney’s role is within a law firm. 

An “of counsel” attorney refers to an attorney who is employed by a law firm but is not considered an associate or partner. The American Bar Association defines an “of counsel” attorney as 

1. A retired partner of the firm who, although not actively practicing law, nonetheless remains associated with the firm and available for occasional consultation.

2. A lawyer who is, in effect, a probationary partner-to-be: usually a lawyer brought into the firm laterally with the expectation of becoming a partner after a relatively short period of time.

3. A permanent status in between those of partner and associate, having the quality of tenure, or something close to it, and lacking that of an expectation of likely promotion to full partner status.

Typically, this type of attorney is a retired judge or government official transitioning into private practice or an attorney who is looking to downsize his or her practice. Lately, a growing trend involves smaller law firms partnering with attorneys who specialize in a particular practice area to provide additional and specialized services. Being an “of counsel” attorney provides a more flexible and less time-intensive schedule for those looking to still participate in the practice of law but with a reduced time commitment.  

We encourage you to ask us your questions about the types of legal services you need and gain insight on the steps you need to take. Remember, we are here to help you find and obtain the planning you need both now and in a crisis. If you have questions or are in need of further guidance, do not wait to reach out to us.

Reginald A. Rhodes, JD, LL.M. has an office in Dothan, AL and serves clients nationwide.

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