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Corporate Lawyer Job Description, Career as a Corporate Lawyer, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training Advanced degree

Salary Average—$50,000 to $90,000 per year

Employment Outlook Good

Definition and Nature of the Work

Corporate lawyers advise their clients or employers on their legal rights and obligations. As advocates, they may represent companies in both criminal and civil court cases. Self-employed corporate lawyers may advise several corporate clients. Corporate lawyers may also work in-house as full-time employees of one company.

Whether serving as in-house or outside counsels, corporate lawyers are hired to keep companies out of trouble by anticipating and helping to circumvent problems. They also keep their clients up to date on new business laws and regulations. Corporate lawyers provide advice on labor relations, employee contracts, tax issues, suits against the corporation, employee injury, patents, and contracts with suppliers of raw materials.

The head of a corporation's legal department may be called the general counsel and hold vice presidential status. The counsel is supported by legal staff.

Education and Training Requirements

Bachelor's degrees and three years of law school are minimum requirements for work as corporate lawyers. All law students take core courses in corporate law, trusts, and tax and insurance law. However, those who want to specialize in corporate law should also take relevant electives, such as creditors' rights, trade regulations, commercial transactions, and trial advocacy.

To practice corporate law, graduates of law schools must be admitted to the bar, or organization of lawyers, in the states in which they want to practice. In most states, admission to the bar requires examinations.

Getting the Job

Work experience during law school will prove helpful for job hunting later. Typing briefs, working in the law school library, or searching records as a junior court clerk will give you job contacts and a firsthand view of the legal world. Many corporations send representatives to law schools to recruit graduating students. Check law journals and newspaper ads for corporate law vacancies.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Employment of corporate lawyers is expected to increase about as fast as the average for all jobs through 2014. Corporations are eager to protect themselves from skyrocketing damage suits, so they readily employ legal advisers. Most opportunities will be in urban areas, where most big corporations are located.

Working Conditions

Corporate lawyers are usually assigned their own offices with their own secretaries and access to legal research assistants and a legal library. They often work long hours, especially when they are preparing court cases. Lawyers who are employed by corporations with district branches may travel to various locations to investigate legal problems.

Where to Go for More Information

American Bar Association
321 N. Clark St.
Chicago, IL 60610
(312) 988-5000

Earnings and Benefits

Average earnings for corporate lawyers range from $50,000 to $90,000 per year. With experience and specialization, general counsels can earn $100,000 or more per year. Benefits for corporate lawyers usually include retirement plans and health and life insurance. Lawyers who work independently must provide their own benefits.

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesLaw and Public Service