Most lawyers in the U.S. work for a law firm, if not establish their own. The number of lawyers and non-lawyers in a law office usually dictate the extent of their capability. Some firms maintain a small workforce of a few attorneys and a dozen or so support staff members. Most law firms operating statewide normally don’t need hundreds of employees.
At the tip of the law office's spear are the partners, who are often the most experienced legal practitioners on the team. In many cases, they are also the founders of the law office. The typical law firm operates on a partnership structure to enable the expansion of its skill pool and offer more services.
Just below the partners in terms of hierarchy are the associates, who normally make up the bulk of a law office's pool of lawyers. Although often less experienced than partners, associates are just as competent and skilled, and offer their services at a lower cost. Associates can become partners by working for three to ten years, although it is uncertain whether their name will be added to that of the law office.
The bulk of the law firm's staff is comprised of support staff. These aren't necessarily lawyers, but they help lawyers by providing research materials, preparing documents, filing cases in court, and so on. Support jobs include law clerks, receptionists, researchers, legal assistants, legal secretaries, and court runners.