Corporate lawyers are professionals who specialize in corporate law, ensuring the legality of different commercial transactions. They advise corporate clients on their legal responsibilities and rights, including the rights and duties of corporate officers. To this end, corporate lawyers should have experience and knowledge of different aspects of bankruptcy, securities law, accounting, and tax law. They should also have knowledge in the fields of contract law, zoning laws, licensing, intellectual property rights, as well as laws and regulations that are specific to the corporate entities they work for.
Compared to trial law, the practice of corporate law is not as adversarial, meaning that there are rarely inequities in the financial resources of parties, underdogs, or wronged parties. The task of corporate lawyers is to review agreements, draft documents, structure transactions, attend meetings, and negotiate deals.
The areas of law corporate lawyers specialize in depend on how large the firm they work for is and where it operates geographically. For example, a corporate lawyer working in a large company in a city may work on and negotiate the terms of a single transaction for many months. In contrast, a corporate lawyer in a small town, working for a small firm, may handle a variety of short-term tasks, including real estate transactions, divorce settlements, and wills, among others. Similar to this, there are different ways in which different companies have organized their subdivisions.
Corporate lawyers who are self-employed may advise a number of corporate clients. In general, they may work as full-time employees or in-house. Regarding responsibilities, corporate lawyers may represent their clients in civil and criminal court cases. Their job is to anticipate and circumvent problems as to keep corporate entities out of trouble. Part of their responsibilities is to make sure their clients are up to date on any new regulations and business laws. Corporate lawyers also offer advice on tax issues, employee contracts, and labor relations. In addition, they provide advice on patents, employee injury, suits against corporations, and contracts with raw material suppliers.
The services corporate lawyers provide range from general corporate matters and initial counseling to angel/ venture capital financings, private placements, sales of businesses, and mergers and acquisitions. These aim to help corporations and entrepreneurs succeed. In addition, corporate lawyers specialize in the formation of corporate entities and prepare the required documentation. Corporate lawyers also deal with liquidations and dissolutions and prepare agreements and bank documents. They prepare consulting and employment agreements, shareholders’ agreements, partnership agreements, operating agreements, and buy/ sell agreements. Finally, corporate lawyers prepare IP agreements such as privacy policies, terms and conditions, as well as confidentiality and inventions assignment agreements, among others.
In terms of employment outlook and advancement opportunities, the demand for corporate lawyers is bound to increase in the future. Corporate entities seek to protect themselves from damage suits and are eager to use the services of legal advisors. Naturally, most job openings are to be found in the urban areas because many large corporations operate there. Lawyers who work for firms are typically assigned their own secretaries and offices, and they have access to a legal library and legal research assistants. Corporate lawyers working for corporations that operate district branches may have to visit different locations in order to investigate legal problems.
Regarding training and education requirements, corporate lawyers should have a Bachelor’s degree as well as 3 years of law school. All students are required to take courses in tax and insurance law, trusts, and corporate law. Students who seek to specialize in this area of law can choose from relevant electives, for example, trial advocacy, commercial transactions, trade regulations, and creditors’ rights, among others.