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Any fish out here that have transitioned from a staff attorney to an associate role? If you have, what was your path and what all did you do?

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If it paid better, I would have actually liked my staff attorney position. We were treated like team members and had offices at a great firm. Tons of hands on experience. I drafted more motions as a staff attorney then my later associate roles. Plus you work with phenomenal attorneys. There are some associates who look down at staff attorneys but that’s utter bs. If you get in as a staff attorney and really do great work - it can lead to bigger things.

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That’s really reassuring to hear.

Me but it was really hard and I don't recommend it. Happy to discuss further via private message.

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IME you're not going to be able to negotiate your way into associate prior to starting. They're either hiring for an on-track role or they're not. But yes, try negotiating. And ask questions about whether staff attorney is just a temporary title that everyone gets before becoming an associate. I think a couple firms/ practice groups do that.

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Is this really a thing? Honestly curious because the staff attorneys at my firm are grouped with paralegals and even 1st years are instructed on how to best make use of them as support staff so I really don't see them acquiring the type of experience that would get them an associate level shift.

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I was a staff attorney for a few years. Pay was horrible but the firm life was great. Several of my friends moved on to big law firms as associates. In fact, i know at least 1 partner at an incredible firm who used to be a staff attorney with me. I made a couple stupid mistakes in firm choices and never went that route. But it is doable.

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You’d never know it by LinkedIn profiles - Once you become an associate, the term “staff” disappears from your work history.

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Get an offer as an associate elsewhere and your firm might match. Worked for me

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Been there. PM for details

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It’s incredibly firm specific whether someone can transition from staff attorney to associate. I’ve seen it done once or twice at my current firm for very specific reasons; never and it wasn’t an option at my first one. Unless you are confident that staff attorney to associate is a known path at the firm you’re considering, I wouldn’t rely on the advice from outside your firm about whether this path is an option. In some places staff attorneys aren’t given the same type of work as associates, and in other places they are.

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This makes sense

Pretty sure a new associate at our firm was a staff attorney elsewhere. I think he had to start as a first year…

Everyone, thanks for giving me your insight and sharing your experience. It’s incredibly helpful.

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