Corporate lawyers advise businesses (which can include different entities such as partnerships, publicly and privately held companies, and business start-ups, among others) on their numerous legal rights, responsibilities and obligations.
General corporate practice involves handling a wide range of legal and business issues. Many corporate lawyers work in law firms, particularly large or mid-size firms, where they counsel clients and handle transactions including negotiation, drafting, and review of contracts and other agreements. Other corporate lawyers are employed directly by corporations as in-house corporate counsel. In-house counsel act as internal advisers on myriad business and legal issues, including labor and employment issues, intellectual property issues, contractual issues and liability issues. Clients are frequently for-profit, but non-profit corporations also rely on corporate counsel.
A corporate law practice may vary substantially in both the degree of emphasis and the type of practice. Some large law firms, for example, may expect their attorneys to focus on transactional work, while others combine transactional and litigation practices.
What do corporate law attorneys do?
Although the specific focus of the practice may vary widely, corporate law attorneys agree that every day brings different challenges and problems, many of which are novel, involving cutting-edge issues in the industries.
For example, we spoke with a partner at a large New York City firm who focuses on merger &acquisition transactions and corporate governance. He noted that he has had the opportunity to acquire a wide breadth of skills and knowledge, and that the best attorneys in this practice have facility in tax, employee benefits, environmental, real estate and antitrust law without being an expert in any of those areas. Being a trusted business adviser and counselor is a critical part of the practice, he said, as is the ability to discuss the commercial and practical implications of decisions beyond purely technical legal advice.
Transactional work is thought by some to be more collaborative than, say, litigation. It also offers different timelines on many projects that attorneys might handle.
What to do if you are interested in corporate law?
- Accounting for Lawyers
- Closing a Deal: Practical Writing for Transactional Practice
- Entrepreneurship and the Law: Evaluating Client Business Plans and Growth Strategies
- Insurance Law
- International Investment Law
- Federal Banking Regulation: Modern Financial Institutions and Change
- Mergers and Acquisitions
- Social Enterprise and Nonprofit Law Clinic
- Corporate and Financial Law Organization
- International Law Society
- Lawyers for Corporate Accountability
- Georgetown Venture Lawyers
Relevant Bar Associations
- American Bar Association: Many Sections and Section Committees are relevant to a corporate law practitioner. For example, the Section on Business Law, Section of International Law’s Committee for International Corporate Counsel, and the Section of Taxation’s Committee on Corporate Tax.
- Association of Corporate Counsel
- Hispanic Bar Association, Corporate Counsel Division
- Minority Corporate Counsel Association
- New York City Bar Committees on Business and Finance
Helpful Corporate Resources
- Guide to Careers in Transactional Law (August 2021)
- Georgetown Law’s Corporate Law Symposium
- ABA Model Business Corporations Act
- National Corporate Research Ltd.
- Uniform Commercial Code