Information about Corporate Attorney Jobs

Corporate attorney jobs involve a truly complex area of legal jobs. Corporate lawyers work as legal advisers and representatives of corporate clients and in some case plaintiffs, specializing in corporate law.

The Work Environment

Corporate law is one of the classic public images of the legal profession. This is one of the few cases where the public image of a type of work can live up to its reputation. Corporate law really is tough. It is highly competitive, adversarial most of the time, and involves intensive areas of legal dispute often related to huge amounts of money and liabilities.

Corporate law is quite unlike other forms of law in some ways. It includes ownership issues like equity and options, the conduct of the corporate entity, contract law as it applies to corporations, corporate regulatory requirements, subsidiaries, and a range of related issues.

The basis of corporate law is that a corporation is a separate legal entity, able to buy and sell property, sue and be sued, as a legal "person". Officeholders that work for the company in "statutory" positions like directors have certain responsibilities and entitlements. Stockholders are the owners of the company, either in shares or private stock which apportions equity in a percentile entitlement to share in profits and ownership.

Most of the legal situations in corporate law devolve on these basic operating principles. A corporate lawyer has to represent the corporate client in the same way as a natural person. This may involve:

  • Advisory roles
  • Conduct of negotiations
  • Mediation
  • Statutory compliance
  • Liability cases
  • Issues in relation to corporate property
  • Intellectual property issues
  • Employment law
  • Contract law
  • Settlements

As you can see, there's a range of different issue and forms of law involved. These areas are where corporate lawyers may specialize, conducting case law as expert advisers. Liability, for example, is more in the insurance and risk management area of law. This is a critical role, in which corporations may need to protect themselves from litigation and unnecessary exposure to damageable situations.

Wages: Extremely variable. See fees and partnerships references below.

Hours: May be extremely long, based on court schedules, client consultations, research, and contract obligations.

The Career Environment

The tendency to specialize is also a good defining characteristic of career progression for corporate lawyers. Talent, expertise, preferences and opportunities are the primary forces in a corporate lawyer's career options. Most corporate lawyers are selective, and concentrate on areas in which they have both strong skills and preferences for the work.

The adversarial, highly competitive environment is another factor. Corporate lawyers can work their way up to partnerships on the basis of performance. Competition for positions in corporate law is therefore ferocious. Success in the field brings rewards and reputation for law firms, and this is a highly capital intensive area of law. Fees are often in the multiple millions.

Success comes with expertise. The best of the best corporate lawyers are true experts, the top of their profession. They may be called in to advise on corporate law, and to represent their peers in the legislative arena.