Lawyer experience level


My tech startup is looking to hire a lawyer for our legal needs. I've narrowed it down to two people: one is a partner who has been practicing law for over 20 years and the other is an associate who's been practicing law for about 10 years. They both seem to know what they are talking about. The fee for the partner is significantly higher.

Is there anything that a partner can do that the associate can't? Anything else I should look for?

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asked Nov 7 '12 at 10:36
21 points
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2 Answers


Given that you are a startup, if you retain the partner it is likely that much of your work will be done by associates, anyway, to keep your fees down and to let the partner work on more-demanding matters.

A senior associate probably has sufficient knowledge to meet the vast majority of your needs. In the worst case, s/he will consult with a partner from time to time, as required.

Disclaimer: This information does not constitute legal advice and does not establish an attorney-client relationship.

answered Nov 7 '12 at 14:09
Dana Shultz
6,015 points


Assuming the two individuals are with a law firm, recognize that (unless you specifically ask otherwise), the work may be done by anybody in the firm. The general rule is that firms give the work to the person with the lowest billing rate who both (1) can do the work and (2) has time to do the work.

This means that you really need to look into the entire FIRM, not just the lawyers themselves.

Note, though, that most legal work for startups is really not very complex and can be done by a mid-level associate (say 5 years of experience) or lower. For example, much of the work of incorporating a new entity can be done by a paralegal, supervised by a lawyer.

answered Nov 9 '12 at 03:23
Chris Fulmer
2,849 points

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