Occ. Code 6501400


New York State Department of Civil Service

Classification Standard


Associate Attorneys provide legal assistance and support to agency program administrators at the policymaking level and prepare legal cases for which there is little precedent and/or which have a major impact on an agency’s mission and program. Incumbents analyze legal opinions, briefs and other material, prepare memoranda of law, confer with administrators or outside parties to legal action in order to mediate, negotiate or settle legal issues related to the agency’s mission and programs. Typically, Associate Attorneys supervise a group of lower level attorneys either in a specialized area of law in connection with a single agency program or in a more general atmosphere as evidenced by the concern with laws governing a number of agency programs.

Positions in this class staff legal offices in many State agencies.


Associate Attorneys must have been admitted to the New York State Bar and are characterized by the performance of the full range of legal activities in support of one or more programs in a State agency and frequently by the supervision of a staff of lower level Attorneys. Associate Attorneys provide legal advice to agency policymakers on issues that may have bearing on the agency’s mission or changes in particular programs, and provide legal services in matters which are novel or potentially precedent setting, or involve a considerable amount of money. Incumbents perform all legal work with little supervisory review and regularly serve as a legal advisor to program administrators and managers. The legal work involves analysis of legal issues, preparing briefs, searching statutes, decisions, opinions and other sources for use in preparation of briefs or recommendations, drafting and reviewing legislation, contracts, leases and agreements and presenting oral arguments either at judicial or administrative proceedings. While they may prepare and present cases before quasi-judicial or administrative bodies, many do not generally engage in the trial actions in courts unless they are employed in the Law Department or in those agencies whose counsel are authorized by statute to appear and represent the agency in court. In such instances, an Associate Attorney may specialize in litigation activity and as such generally will not provide on-going supervision to a legal staff.

Incumbents of this class may perform a wide range of assignments and the tasks performed vary considerably within the framework described in this standard. There are some who as members of a very small legal office receive wide ranging assignments, while others, usually in larger offices, receive a more limited variety of work.

Many Associate Attorneys are engaged in the legal aspects of a single program in an agency and thus are considered to be legal specialists. Such specialists are frequently identified by parenthetic designations indicating the specific field of law in which they are engaged. Normally this specialization is recognized by the legal profession, as evidenced by the fact that Attorneys in private practice specialize in the same field of legal work. Typical examples of such specialties are Realty, Banking, Insurance and Taxation. Parenthetics describing an agency’s program or specific agency activities are usually inappropriate.

Senior Attorneys are distinguished from those at the Associate level primarily by the fact that they provide advice to agency administrators on issues that do not have a major effect on an agency’s mission, programs or policies; and provide legal services in matters which have clear precedents. Although some Senior Attorneys may supervise lower level Attorneys on a given project or assignment, supervision is not a distinguishing factor at that level.

Principal Attorneys are distinguished from those at the Associate level by their coordination or supervision of the legal staff of an agency as an overall assistant to the Agency Counsel and their providing legal advice and services to agency policymakers on matters having a bearing on the agency’s mission and for which legal trends and decisions are not clearly defined.

Positions which perform similar tasks as stated in this standard but are placed in either the non-competitive or exempt class are classified under the title of Associate Counsel.


Incumbents of positions of Associate Attorney perform similar activities and tasks to those described in the Classification Standard for Senior Attorney, Occ. Code 6501300 in legal areas that affect the agency mission and programs and where there are matters which are novel or potentially precedent setting or involve a considerable amount of money. Such activities are performed within the framework of the criteria noted above and include the following:


Associate Attorneys orally present and argue legal issues with agency policymakers, other attorneys and outside parties to legal disputes. Such presentations are designed to convince others of a particular point of view by means of thorough case presentation and skilled logical thinking. Although these presentations vary in length and degree of formality, they usually involve case preparation and formulation of a persuasive argument. In addition Associate Attorneys prepare detailed accurate and convincing legal memoranda accompanied by appropriate citations in support of actions taken by program administrators.

Associate Attorneys also participate in conferences and meetings preparatory to legal proceedings in order to exchange information regarding agency actions and the legal basis for such actions. At such meetings they also advise administrators regarding the legality of their actions or determinations and may as appropriate suggest changes to conform to legal requirements.

In the presentation of an agency’s legislative program Associate Attorneys provide legal consultation to program policymakers on proposed legislation, legality of anticipated decisions, the effect of new legislation, prepare drafts of legislation, etc. Associate Attorneys may also discuss proposed legislation with legislators and may give testimony before legislative committees to present the agency’s position.

Associate Attorneys also provide continuous legal consultation to program administrators for all aspects of agency programs.


In an agency’s legal office, Associate Attorneys typically supervise lower level attorneys as a principal assignment. Incumbents make specific assignments, provide necessary instructions and guidelines in the case preparation process and establish priorities and deadlines. Associate Attorneys review work for accuracy of legal citations, technical treatment of facts and legal precedents, soundness of approach, proper application of legal principles and consistency with governing policies, procedures and regulations of the agency.

Associate Attorneys independently plan, organize and conduct reviews and analyses of agency legal problems, problem cases and legislative proposals. Completed work is reviewed for soundness of approach, and consistency with governing policies, procedures and regulations of the agency.

Generally, before an Associate Attorney orally presents a case at a hearing or other judicial proceeding, a higher level attorney or counsel discusses various aspects of the case with the Associate Attorney to insure that proper groundwork has been prepared and various techniques of presentation have been explored. In the same manner, before an Associate Attorney gives testimony before a legislative committee, a higher level administrator, attorney or counsel usually discusses various aspects of the agency’s proposals and needs to insure that agency positions are explained properly and fully.



One year of permanent competitive service as a Senior Attorney.



Reviewed: 7/02


NOTE: Classification Standards illustrate the nature, extent and scope of duties and responsibilities of the classes they describe. Standards cannot and do not include all of the work that might be appropriately performed by a class. The minimum qualifications above are those which were required for appointment at the time the Classification Standard was written. Please contact the Division of Staffing Services for current information on minimum qualification requirements for appointment or examination.