Corporate lawyers often work long hours in an intense work environment in order to ensure that the companies they represent have the best legal advice possible. A corporate lawyer represents businesses in lawsuits. They also give legal advice to companies regarding relevant regulations and financial duties.
In order to be a corporate lawyer, you must have a bachelor's degree and a law degree from an accredited law school. After graduating from law school, you must pass the bar exam in your state. The competition for corporate attorney jobs is fierce, so the grades you get in law school will be a significant factor in the type of job that you get. Taking law classes such as commercial transaction, securities and credit, trade law, and business law will also help.
Your job as a corporate lawyer will be to make sure that your clients' business transactions are legal. For each business transaction, you will need to research extensive regulations, including relevant contract law, tax law, intellectual property rules and zoning laws. You will write and revise contracts and work in negotiations. The process for each transaction can take a long time, and corporate lawyers tend to work very long hours.
A corporate lawyer's job is far less adversarial than a trial attorneys' work. You must be able to work in teams and find joint solutions with other corporate counsel. You will need patience and stamina, as some transactions take a long time from start to finish. A corporate lawyer needs to be flexible and must have a service-oriented mentality, ready to put in the hours and research that is needed, when it is needed. Corporate lawyers also need strong verbal and written communication skills, as they must communicate effectively with clients and other attorneys, along with writing detailed contracts that meet everyone's needs.
Job Outlook and Salary
The average salary for lawyers who work with companies and enterprises was $161,570 a year in 2011, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, although the job outlook for lawyers in general is positive, corporate lawyers may have trouble. Between 2010 and 2020, attorney employment should grow by 10 percent, which compares to an average growth rate of 14 percent for all U.S. jobs. The growth for corporate lawyers may be hindered as businesses hire accounting firms and paralegals to do some of the same work. Competition for jobs is strong, as overall, more lawyers graduate each year than there are jobs available.
2016 Salary Information for Lawyers
Lawyers earned a median annual salary of $118,160 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, lawyers earned a 25th percentile salary of $77,580, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $176,580, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 792,500 people were employed in the U.S. as lawyers.
- Law Crossing: Becoming a Corporate Attorney
- Princeton Review: Career: Corporate Lawyer
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2011 - Lawyers
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Lawyers -- Job Outlook
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Lawyers
- Career Trend: Lawyers
With features published by media such as Business Week and Fox News, Stephanie Dube Dwilson is an accomplished writer with a law degree and a master's in science and technology journalism. She has written for law firms, public relations and marketing agencies, science and technology websites, and business magazines.