In this paper, time-independent plasticity is addressed within the thermodynamic framework with internal variables by Rice (1971, “Inelastic Constitutive Relations for Solids: An Internal Variable Theory and Its Application to Metal Plasticity,” J. Mech. Phys. Solids, **19**, pp. 433–455). It is shown in this paper that the existence of a free energy function along with thermodynamic equilibrium conditions directly leads to associated flow rules. The time-independent inelastic behaviors can be fully determined by the Hessian matrix at the nondegenerate critical point of the free energy function. The normality rule of Hill and Rice (1973, “Elastic Potentials and the Structure of Inelastic Constitutive Laws,” SIAM J. Appl. Math., **25**, pp. 448–461) or the Il'yushin (1961, “On a Postulate of Plasticity,” J. Appl. Math. Mech. **25**, pp. 746–750) postulate is just a stability requirement of the thermodynamic equilibrium. The existence of a free energy functional which is not a direct function of the internal variables, along with thermodynamic equilibrium conditions also leads to associated flow rules. The time-independent inelastic behaviors with the free energy functional can be fully determined by the quasi Hessian matrix at the quasi critical point of the free energy functional. With the free energy functional, the thermodynamic forces conjugate to the internal variables are nonconservative and are constructed based on Darboux theorem. Based on the constructed nonconservative forces, it is shown that there may exist several possible thermodynamic equilibrium mechanisms for the thermodynamic system of the material sample. Therefore, the associated flow rules based on free energy functionals may degenerate into nonassociated flow rules. The symmetry of the conjugate forces plays a central role for the characteristics of time-independent plasticity.