Corporate Attorney Job Description
As a corporate attorney, your job will be catering to the corporation that employs you. You can mostly expect to perform predictable work, and you’ll be on the same team with your client. A corporate law career is different from criminal law or working in a law firm where different clients come and go.
In other words, in comparison to both working in a firm and working on your own, corporate law is something entirely different. For example, if the corporation you work for is small, you may work with another attorney or by yourself. However, if your employer is a large corporation, yours will likely be merely one of many legal corporate jobs.
Large corporations tend to hire many attorneys at the same time, forming teams and ensuring that each attorney has a different set of skills. For instance, most large businesses, such as manufacturing companies, retail stores, insurance companies, and banks, hire such legal professionals. As a result, corporate lawyer duties and working hours tend to be unpaid and extended in a law firm, but are more predictable in corporations.
It would be most accurate to say that corporate attorney jobs mostly involve providing legal guidance to both clients and employers. Most commonly, the first order of business when starting a new case is to meet with prospective clients and understand the legal issue more profoundly. When looking to obtain all of the necessary details, this activity often requires consulting with other attorneys and reading through corporate filings. Researching prior cases and finding previous precedents usually follow after that.
If you specialize in corporate law, you could also seek employment as a corporate litigation lawyer. These legal professionals represent their clients in courtrooms, where they work in front of a judge and jury. If this is the case, you’ll be performing examinations and cross-examinations of witnesses, as well as making opening and closing arguments.
Speaking of courtrooms, if working in and out of the courtroom is something you’d enjoy, consider seeking employment as a corporate bankruptcy lawyer. As a bankruptcy lawyer, you’d be responsible for presenting debt-reorganization plans for the court to approve. Outside of it, you may advise clients on bankruptcy laws and counsel them on how to reduce their debts. Another form of employment is on the side of creditors, where you’d be tasked with extracting as much money as you can from various debtors.
The great thing about jobs for corporate lawyers is that you don’t have to work for a large law firm. You can opt to sign contracts with many different firms, thus becoming self-employed.
The main thing to keep in mind in terms of corporate lawyer requirements is that these law professionals ensure the legality of business transactions and practices. As such, corporate attorneys are top-notch experts in their respective fields. Ensuring that your clients operate within legal boundaries is crucial for being a corporate lawyer. To achieve this goal, you must possess a thorough understanding of regulations and laws, no matter what size the corporation ends up being your employer.
Corporate Lawyer Education Requirements
You’ll need to complete an undergraduate degree before you’re able to attend law school. Furthermore, keep in mind that most of your future competitors for many corporate lawyer jobs purposefully attend top undergraduate programs. The reason for their choice is the fierce competitiveness of the field.
You’ll need to hold the Juris Doctor degree from a reputable law school to be able to seek jobs for a corporate lawyer. Remember that your law school of choice also must hold accreditation from the American Bar Association. Typically, a bachelor’s degree program, after which you’ll need to take the LSAT (Law School Admission Test), are the two basic requirements for your law school of choice.
Upon gaining admittance to law school, you’ll typically study concepts such as property rights and torts for the better part of the first few semesters. Tax law and business law classes will only be available to you during the last year and a half. In these classes, you’ll have your first contact with topics like taxation and corporate accounting, which are essential for a corporate lawyer education.
If you’re eager to make your corporate lawyer resume particularly appealing to future employers, you may want to consider enrolling in a one-year Master of Laws (LL.M) program. This program is excellent in terms of expanding your knowledge of business and corporate law. While you’re certainly able to customize your path of study toward your specialty of choice while attending this program, keep in mind that it, by default, primarily focuses on legal theory and writing. For instance, you can focus on business finance, commercial law, or corporate governance if you have an interest in corporate law and wish to broaden your corporate lawyer skills.
However, completing your studies is just the beginning of your career. The next step in the process involves taking the bar exam, which is mandatory if you wish to practice law. Corporate lawyer job openings that don’t require attorneys to pass the bar exam don’t exist. Keep in mind that you’ll find separate bar exams in each state, making it somewhat complicated to practice law in other states. In other words, while corporate lawyer jobs in the USA are undoubtedly ample, they’re also not without their bureaucratic conundrums.
Simultaneously, it’s essential to keep in mind that a written ethics exam is a requirement for lawyers in most states, especially for entry-level corporate attorney jobs. Luckily, some states practice reciprocity in terms of their respective bar admittance policies. This reciprocity means that such states allow attorneys who have passed the bar exam of another state to practice law in those states as well. At the same time, remember that you may need to take more than one bar exam if you work at business law jobs for a company that does business in multiple states.
Jobs for a Corporate Lawyer
Please note that you can practice law as a corporate attorney (actual job title) in a multitude of positions and jobs across the United States. Hence, we’ve taken the liberty of listing three not so conventional, yet highly exciting positions for corporate lawyer-level legal professionals.
Mid-Level/Senior Investment Funds Associate
Every list of jobs for a corporate lawyer will likely have a job opening for an associate of some kind. In addition to being an active member in good standing of their respective bar exam, an associate must also have the Juris Doctor degree from a school bearing the accreditation of ABA. When it comes to such corporate finance lawyer jobs, expertise in the field of private investment fund formation is a requirement. Additionally, it would be an additional benefit if you also have experience in establishing and operating hedge funds, private equity funds, and real estate funds.
Investment Management Associate
When searching online for “corporate lawyer jobs near me,” it’s particularly prudent to consider associate and other corporate lawyer entry jobs first. When it comes to an investment management associate position, experience at a top international firm is not a requirement. However, experience in investment advice, private funds, and variable insurance products is always beneficial.
Investment Management, Hedge Funds, and Alternative Investment Associate
Before moving up to junior corporate lawyer jobs, it would be great to amass experience in the investment management industry. Additionally, since legislation that regulates the investment industry is ever-changing, you should stay up-to-date with the latest relevant laws. For instance, learning more about the Investment Advisers Act and the Investment Company Act of 1940 is a great place to start. At the same time, getting acquainted with other US securities laws is always a bonus, not to mention experience in fund service providers, board meeting materials, compliance issues, operating agreements, fund offering, and organizational documents. While those mentioned earlier aren’t mandatory corporate lawyer job requirements, knowledge, and experience with them can mean the difference between landing a job and moving on to the next opening.