Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

From ID to Biglaw staff attorney?

I'm thinking about moving to a biglaw staff attorney positio at112007/10/17
By LA do you mean Louisiana? If so that salary range is abou redwhineo07/11/17
Just clarify it. I'm in LA, CA, not Louisiana. at112007/11/17
Its not clear what the firm is offering. Staff attorney sal vespucius07/11/17
There really isn't a scale for a senior staff attorney, so I trollfeeder07/11/17
the big question is, when you apply to the next job, will yo dingbat07/11/17
Anecdotally speaking, I think that salary may be a bit low. nigeltufnel07/11/17
If you're looking for more sophisticated work, I do not beli mrtor07/11/17
I know staff attorneys who sit in the basement and do doc re nighthawk07/11/17
I know some staff attorneys are doc review monkeys. But I be at112007/11/17
If the firm you are applying to is representing a party in a defectoantesto07/11/17
Staff attorney? Isn't that just the firm's doc reviewer? isthisit07/11/17
TITCR. Source: former biglaw Staff Attorney blackholelaw07/12/17
See what the title is first. I've seen Staff Attorney posit miketrout07/11/17
"Eventually I want to get a government job or become in-hous vohod07/12/17
I would avoid it. Who wants to be a second class citizen eve notiers07/15/17
at1120 (Jul 10, 2017 - 11:47 pm)

I'm thinking about moving to a biglaw staff attorney position and would like some advice.

Current situation: ID in LA (added: CA, not Louisiana) 5th year. Making about 100k. Billable close to 2000.

I like my job and co-workers. But my peoblems are 1) salary and 2) not enough sophisticated work. Like all ID, I handle a variety of cases, but most of my cases are lender liability.

A position that I'm contemplating to move is a Am 50-100 firm staff attorney position that does a lot of banking litigation.

I have no desire or ability to become a partner at biglaw so the fact that a staff attorney means no partnership does not bother me a bit. But what bothers me is that the salary is not what I think it would be. I did some googling, mostly glassdoor, and found out that a biglaw staff attorney pays 110-120k in LA. First of all, is it true?? If so, is it worth for me to move and become a second citizen for the sake of working on more complex cases?

Eventually I want to get a government job or become in-house counsel for a bank. So working as staff attorney at biglaw would help?

Thanks!

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redwhineo (Jul 11, 2017 - 12:02 am)

By LA do you mean Louisiana? If so that salary range is about right. Attorney pay here is lower than other metros.

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at1120 (Jul 11, 2017 - 12:35 am)

Just clarify it. I'm in LA, CA, not Louisiana.

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vespucius (Jul 11, 2017 - 8:22 am)

Its not clear what the firm is offering. Staff attorney salaries are low.

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trollfeeder (Jul 11, 2017 - 8:40 am)

There really isn't a scale for a senior staff attorney, so I would imagine you would make your salary demand, and they can accept it or counter. I would say give a high number, and see if it is worth your while. You can probably apply to those government and in house jobs now, and see if they bite. Seems like you have a solid gig for now, so you have leverage.

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dingbat (Jul 11, 2017 - 8:48 am)

the big question is, when you apply to the next job, will you need to specify that you were a staff attorney on your resume, or can you just say "senior associate" or something to that effect?
If that's the case, working at a large firm for a few years is certainly a plus for future employment

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nigeltufnel (Jul 11, 2017 - 9:09 am)

Anecdotally speaking, I think that salary may be a bit low. In my former BigLaw firm, I knew a couple of staff attorneys who came from small/boutique law firms with about 2 - 3 years of experience. Their starting salary was about $140K. The office was is a major metro with a lower cost of living than L.A. and the practice was non-litigation patent practice (e.g. prosecution, FTO, etc...). Like I said, that is 2 data points from a single office of a single BigLaw firm.

Both tried to go in-house and both were successful (after several attempts). However, they always had to answer the question, "why staff attorney, why not associate?" Based upon their experiences, my feeling is that the "staff attorney" label can be a detriment down the road, but no necessarily insurmountable. Of course, if you are an associate, it's not a hurdle you will encounter. With that said, government or banking sector maybe completely different so YMMV.

Good luck!

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mrtor (Jul 11, 2017 - 9:31 am)

If you're looking for more sophisticated work, I do not believe the staff attorney route is the way to go. Staff attorneys are the lowest worker bees on the totem pole. Lower than even the associate attorney scum. I know classmates who went into these positions. They performed all of the work that associates did not want to bother with, primarily voluminous discovery and due diligence. Most burned out in within a year or two -- some because they wanted more responsibility and a career track, others because the work was so terrible.

Few firms are going to trust staff attorneys with any significant responsibilities since they are merely career-stagnant clock punchers. If you are looking for more sophisticated work, find it elsewhere as an attorney rather than a glorified paper pusher.

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nighthawk (Jul 11, 2017 - 10:09 am)

I know staff attorneys who sit in the basement and do doc review all day. Basically, they are salaried doc reviewers. Occasionally they also do due diligence and work deemed too sophisticated for the paralegals but beneath first year associates. I don't see the upgrade and how it benefits you re finding an in house job. Banks know what staff attorneys do and do not consider it a stepping stone to banking regulation in house.

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at1120 (Jul 11, 2017 - 10:45 am)

I know some staff attorneys are doc review monkeys. But I believe this position is different because counsel for one of the co-defendants in my case is a staff attoeney at this firm. I represent a small local bank and he represents a national bank. So to a certain extent, he, a staff attorney at big law, and I, an associate at a mid-sized ID firm, do the same work. I wish I'm close enough to him and can ask him questions. But unfortunatly I cannot.

Like some of you mentioned, I do not like the title "staff attorney" when I am an associate at my firm and have so much lattitude. I handle some of the most complex cases that my firm has and I can pick and choose cases to a certain extent. For example, I don't do any PI stuffs and tell the partners that I don't want to. I have enough complex cases that no partner bothers me with petty PI cases. But I want more sophisitcated work and my firm is not being recognized in the insurance industry for sophisticated banking/finance defense firm. So I don't believe I would gain any higher level banking experience at my firm and I was hoping moving to biglaw even as a staff attorney would give me that exposure. Am I wrong to believe that?

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defectoantesto (Jul 11, 2017 - 11:20 am)

If the firm you are applying to is representing a party in a current litigation in which you are representing another party, you really ought to tread carefully here. I know you said "codefendants" but codefendants can obviously still be adverse to one another. It would not make a good first impression at the new firm if your first day on the job somehow conflicted the firm out of representing a national bank. Just sayin'....

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isthisit (Jul 11, 2017 - 10:50 am)

Staff attorney? Isn't that just the firm's doc reviewer?

If your resume/business card doesn't say Associate than it's going to be an uphill battle.

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blackholelaw (Jul 12, 2017 - 11:22 am)

TITCR. Source: former biglaw Staff Attorney

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miketrout (Jul 11, 2017 - 11:39 am)

See what the title is first. I've seen Staff Attorney positions that say "Associate" on them. If it says Associate, it's a no-brainer, IMHO.

Even if your title is still "Staff Attorney", I would still do it if you're going to get the experience you need to reach long term goals. Even if it's only doc review, if you're working on banking type stuff you can spin it. Can also always "embellish" what you're doing there a little bit.

Good luck.

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vohod (Jul 12, 2017 - 9:18 pm)

"Eventually I want to get a government job or become in-house counsel for a bank."

Staff might help get you into government moreso than ID. Neither staff nor ID will do much to get you in-house at a bank. The people I know in-house at WFB and USB all hate it or have chips on their shoulders about it so its not the end of the world to aim for government.

I'd take it if you are through with the ID rat race.

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notiers (Jul 15, 2017 - 10:16 am)

I would avoid it. Who wants to be a second class citizen every day. Use your experience to lateral to a mid sized firm or a better ID firm with more interesting work.

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