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What Do Corporate Lawyers Do?

 

What Do Corporate Lawyers Do?

Corporate lawyers make up a very specialized group of attorneys within legal practice. While it is no surprise that corporate lawyers exist to represent some of the larger companies in the world, it might not be exactly clear what purpose they serve in an organization.

It can be challenging to narrow down corporate lawyers’ roles and responsibilities because it is nearly impossible to find two transactions or deals that are the same at this level. With so many variables, such as industry, size of the company, etc., it can be hard to narrow everything down.

So, you are likely wondering, what do corporate lawyers do? Search no further; we’ve broken it down for you.

Who Do Corporate Lawyers Serve?

A corporate lawyer is responsible for serving their one primary client, the corporation that employs them. The size of the corporation overall typically determines the number of lawyers within any given corporation.

Clients of corporate lawyers can range from small businesses to multinational corporations. The range is virtually limitless. All companies need legal representation for several different reasons.

How Many Lawyers Do Corporations Have?

In smaller corporations, it is common for one to two lawyers to be on staff. In larger corporations, there are several different lawyers. Typically, each lawyer will have their specialty within the corporation.

What Corporations Have Lawyers on Staff?

While corporate lawyers are in businesses spanning various industries, it is most common to see full-time legal staff in the following:

  • Banks
  • Biotechnology companies
  • Communications companies
  • Energy companies
  • Hospitals
  • Insurance companies
  • Larger retail stores
  • Manufacturing companies
  • Oil firms

What Do Corporate Lawyers Do?

Corporate lawyers go by many different names, varying from company to company. Some of the titles you might see for corporate lawyers include:

  • Chief Legal Officer
  • Deputy General Counsel
  • General Counsel
  • In-House Counsel
  • Staff Attorney

It is the primary role of corporate lawyers to represent the best interests of the company they represent. This role is a clear distinction from others who serve in the owners’ best interest or officers.

What Is the Job Description of a Corporate Lawyer?

Corporate law tends to see a lot of diversity and, as a result, requires a background in varying areas. A corporate lawyer needs to have experience in this area of law as well as additional skills in the following scope:

  • Business
  • Administrative
  • Managerial
  • Negotiation
  • Writing
  • Interpersonal

Corporate lawyers must thrive while working in a fast-paced environment. Frequently, they are called upon for legal and business advice during various meetings, including those with both board members as well as management.

What Are the Job Duties of a Corporate Lawyer?

It is relatively uncommon for corporate lawyers to represent their company in a courtroom. Typically, the work they provide is known for being more transactional by nature. The idea of having a corporate lawyer on staff is to avoid any possible litigation.

In addition to general legal and business advising, corporate lawyers may also be responsible for duties that include:

  • Negotiation of employee contracts
  • Preparation and filing of reports for the government
  • Creation of legal documents
  • Review of prospective business relationships
  • Guidance through compliance issues
  • Administration of employee training
  • Development of employee handbooks
  • Analyzation of potential legal issues
  • Representation in administration boards
  • Supervision of outside lawyers hired in
  • Structure of joint enterprises

What Are the Different Sectors of Corporate Law?

While it is the primary responsibility of corporate lawyers to provide legal counsel to the company they represent, they are frequently called upon for additional duties.

Several divisions make up corporate law, and it is common for larger corporations to have a lawyer specializing in each area. Some of these specialties within corporate law may include:

Contracts

One of the most common areas of corporate laws heavily relies on contracting. Contracts are the legally binding documents agreed upon between two or more parties.

Corporate lawyers are responsible for reviewing, drafting, and negotiating any legally-binding agreements for the corporation. Contracts can include anything from a lease agreement to multi-billion dollar acquisitions.

Banking and Structured Finance

Corporate lawyers advise banks and financial institutions on all aspects of the business they represent. Whether it be operational matters or lending transactions, they have a hand in it. It’s up to the corporate lawyers to advise clients on securitizations and help to dissect banking regulations.

Venture Capital

When it comes time for a corporation to start a large infrastructure project, it is the corporate lawyer’s role to secure the necessary financing. The lawyers will also help bring to light any potential liability issues and assist with drafting and negotiating any contracts involved.

Mergers and Acquisitions

As businesses continue to trend towards general consolidation, mergers and acquisitions remain an increasingly significant corporate law area. Attorneys in this area will help corporations through:

  • Mergers
  • Joint ventures
  • Takeovers
  • Buyouts that have been leveraged
  • Recapitalizations
  • Roll-ups
  • Swaps of stocks

Securities

When businesses go public or have other securities law matters, corporate lawyers are there to guide them. With the current state of the economy, this sector is at a bit of a standstill. However, there are still other ways corporate lawyers will handle securities, including the drafting of annual reports.

Corporate Governance

Corporate lawyers can also assist businesses in developing the framework for the direction and control of the operation. This corporate governance may include:

  • Drafting incorporation articles
  • Creating bylaws
  • Advising directors of their responsibilities
  • Implementing other policies for managing the company

What Are the Educational Requirements of Corporate Lawyers?

Corporate lawyers undergo a series of rigorous schooling and additional credentialing to fully represent their clients to the best of their abilities.

Law Degree

Much like any other practicing lawyer, one specializing in corporate law holds a juris doctorate. Typically, corporations will require their lawyers to have received their degree from a law school currently accredited by the American Bar Association.

The pressure for a corporate lawyer starts very early on in their career with law school admission, with the top-25 law schools accepting only 10% of applicants.

Attorney’s License

In addition to their law degree, corporate lawyers must also have an attorney’s license, which allows them to practice law in their employing state. Typically, it is required by most states within the US for lawyers to renew their licenses before the end of each year.

Federal Court Admittance and Approval

Corporate lawyers must also have the ability to represent their clients in federal court. In order to do so, all corporate lawyers must go through the admittance and approval process to practice in each federal court in the area in which they practice law.

Ongoing Education

It is common for corporate lawyers to continue their education beyond their degree. While their employers do not necessarily require it, it is heavily favored. Ongoing education opportunities may include training programs or continuing education through their employment.

In some jurisdictions within the US, Continuing Legal Education, or CLE, is mandatory. Each year, lawyers must complete and successfully earn the minimum requirements for CLE credits.

How Do Lawyers Pursue Corporate Positions?

In addition to required schooling, it takes an interest in the corporate world to pursue a career in this field. By showing an interest in administration and management positions within a company, lawyers can facilitate their advancement.

A typical career path could look something like this:

  1. Supervisory Attorney
  2. Managing Attorney
  3. Deputy Chief
  4. General Counsel / Chief Legal Officer

It is also possible to promote advancement through other corporations to continue seeking top positions available.

How Much Are Corporate Lawyers Paid?

A corporate lawyer’s average salary varies greatly depending on their work experience, the corporation they represent, and even geographical location. Typically, a corporate lawyer’s salary range is anywhere from $70,000 to $170,000, with recent graduates being at the low end of the spectrum and chief legal officers at the other end.

What Makes a Good Corporate Lawyer?

While many attributes make up a successful corporate lawyer, the following are a high priority for most companies:

  • Exceptional knowledge of business
  • Up to date with current trends
  • On top of legislative and regulatory developments
  • Familiarity with corporate and business law
  • Strong communication and negotiation skills
  • Exemplary educational background
  • Excellent analytical skills

When Do You Need Help From a Corporate Lawyer?

While corporate lawyers can help when legal action is necessary, it is worth looking into hiring a legal team well before they are needed. It may seem unnecessary, but it’s always a good idea to have a legal team on board for business owners or new ventures.

Even if you don’t decide to create a corporation, a corporate lawyer will help to guide you and structure your business towards success.

Understanding that it is not always realistic for businesses to hire a corporate lawyer on retainer, it is recommended to consult with one during the following:

  • Forming a business
  • Closing a business
  • Business problems arise

Conclusion

Understanding the role of a corporate lawyer is genuinely dependent on the company in which they represent. Undoubtedly, they will be responsible for advising in terms of legal rights, responsibilities, and company obligations.

While most corporate lawyers do not have courtroom activity, their day to day activities typically require advising and negotiating varying business transactions.

If you are looking for a corporate lawyer, you can get a free consultation from a highly recommended and reputable corporate lawyer in your area HERE.

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