What does a Principal Attorney do?
Attorneys advise and represent clients during civil or criminal cases. They provide professional advice, prepare documents, and appear in court to plead on behalf of their clients. They explain legal issues, advise clients on litigation involving them, and research all case elements, including official documentation including a police report. They pay close attention to the legal system elements that pertain to the client's case and search for relevant, previously filed pleadings.
Attorneys formulate a strategy on behalf of clients, intending to find timely and cost-effective ways to manage legal issues. Rather than take a case to trial, attorneys attempt to resolve it promptly. Attorneys familiarize themselves with a client’s case and directly defend their best interest, and help clients discuss plea bargains or other agreements with a district attorney's office. They also advise clients on their public behavior while charges are pending. Attorneys need a Juris Doctor from a school of law and to pass the state Bar exam.
- Identify and help resolve legal issues and areas of risk.
- Case review for legal issues. legal research, writing, and oral argument.
- Review, assess and handle matters from inception to trial.
- Take the lead role in negotiations that are complex, strategic or sensitive in nature.
- Provide leadership through mentoring other attorneys and legal support staff.
- Ensure contract procedures comply with laws, rules and regulations.
- Prepare, send, and track subpoenas for witnesses and records.
- As necessary, review cases to determine and ensure appropriate action.
- May have supervisory responsibility for a small group of legal resources.
- Communicate and/or draft correspondence to third parties to assist in dispute resolution.
- Prepare and take depositions of parties and experts.
- Effective communication with staff, clients, and opposing parties.
- Prepare and prosecutes cases primarily in all local trial courts.
- Work collaboratively with and support colleagues across the legal department.
- Respect one another and relationships with staff, supervisors and managers.
- Provide general legal advice and support on day-to-day operational issues and significant company-wide matters.
- Propose new products, events and services to meet customer needs.
- Draft necessary legal documents and develop conclusions and recommendations.
- Design, write, and update advanced internal or external training modules.
- Prepare and present compliance and legal briefing to management.
- Law Degree.
- Comfortable speaking to expertise with confidence.
- Collaboration and critical thinking skills.
- Sound work ethic that includes problem solving and negotiation alongside attention to detail.
- Prior experience consulting with clients.
- Time management skills and professionalism.
- Attention to detail and leadership.
- Comfortable acting in an advocacy position.
How much does a Principal Attorney make?
Principal Attorney Career Path
Learn how to become a Principal Attorney, what skills and education you need to succeed, and what level of pay to expect at each step on your career path.
Years of Experience Distribution
Principal Attorney Insights
“The pay and benefit package at Scranton Law Firm is also the best I have had in my career”
“workers are generally nice but untrained so you don't really want them touching your files.”
“Some of the upper management can be great resources for a wide range of Real Estate Law topics and practice.”
“During a difficult Covid year our pay was not reduced and we still received a bonus unlike many law firms.”
“Really enjoyed working with our medical legal partnership clients and serving the LGBTQIA+ community.”
“Rewards hard work and grants you independence quickly if you provide consistent high quality work product.”
“The salary is not the best and the career takes too much time to growth.”
“The leadership here is great and they really push us to succeed in our roles.”
Principal Attorney Interviews
Frequently asked questions about the role and responsibilities of attorneys
An attorney has a wide variety of duties depending on the type of law they practice. A typical day of an attorney is spent advising clients on litigation and legal issues, and they also research the law, interpret case law, and develop case strategies.
The best part of being an attorney is the wide variety of opportunities. Attorneys work in private practice or for corporations, and there are opportunities in government. The majority of their day is spent in an office, but they also travel to see clients and spend time in court.
Attorneys can get paid very well. The average pay for attorneys in the U.S. is $166,794 but the range varies widely depending on the type of law you practice. Salaries range from $99,150 on the low end to $282,928 on the high side.
Working as an attorney is very challenging, but it is also rewarding. The job involves meeting deadlines, and the hours are often long because of the need to meet clients' needs. The rewards come from helping others and the prestige that comes with a law degree.