Attorneys who research and argue cases at trial but have yet to reach partnership status at a law firm are known as litigation associates. These lawyers can be part of a corporation's in-house legal department or a law firm, or be self-employed in their own private practice. Becoming a litigation associate requires extensive education, licensure and appreciation for the legal system.
Education and Licensure
All attorneys in the United States are required to obtain a law degree and pass their state's bar examination. Most states also require attorneys to have received their juris doctorate degree from a law school that is accredited by the American Bar Association. In addition, many states require that attorneys continue to pursue formal education in their areas of legal specialization, either every year or every three years.
Typical Job Duties
Litigation associates prepare for and argue cases in court, but they also have other duties. These attorneys provide legal counsel to clients who are involved in lawsuits. They prepare and file documents necessary for litigation, including contracts, wills and appeals. Litigation associates may further specialize in certain legal areas, such as personal injury or real estate law.
Work Atmosphere and Schedule
Like most other lawyers, litigation associates typically work in an office environment. In fact, the home bases of most lawyers are in legal or corporate offices. Litigation associates frequently travel to courthouses to argue cases, and sometimes they travel to a client's home, office or other location to discuss a case. The work can be demanding, as it requires long hours of intense research and preparation for court appearances.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment rate for lawyers is expected to grow 10 percent between 2012 and 2022, about the average rate of growth for all occupations. Competition among perspective litigation associates will remain high because the number of law school graduates has been outnumbering the number of available associate positions. While law firms are expected to remain the largest employers of litigation associates, many private corporations also hire in-house legal teams to reduce costs.