Business And Corporate Lawyers: Who They Are and What Do They Do

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There are several areas of the law. Legal practitioners choose the aspect of the law that they wish to specialize and practice in. Some of the common areas of legal practice include criminal law, personal injury law, family law, and more. While these areas of law are more clearly defined, two areas; business law and corporate law, are often confusing to the layman. While both legal professionals practice law, they do so in different capacities. Knowing who is who and what each one of these professionals does will help you make the right choice when the need arises. For clarity, a corporate or company attorney serves one client – the business that has hired them for their legal services. On the other hand, a business lawyer is an independent legal practitioner whose area of focus spans across issues like employment law, taxes, contracts, commercial transactions, and more.

Many businesses have a corporate or in-house lawyer on staff. Depending on the size of the business, the lawyers may range in number from one or two to several lawyers, each with a different specialty within business law. Large corporations like retail stores, banks, oil firms, hospitals, biotechnology companies, medical equipment manufacturers, big tech companies, and others often have several full-time corporate lawyers in their employ.

These lawyers offer their legal services to guide businesses through the murky waters of the business and legal world. Corporate lawyers are often referred to as In-House Counsels, Deputy General Counsel, Chief Legal Officers, General Counsel, and others. They are focused on protecting both the business owner and the business itself. These lawyers may decide to narrow down their area of specialization based on the needs of their employer. Common areas to specialize in include trademarks, tax law, employment law, bankruptcy, real estate or international commercial law, securities, mergers and acquisitions, and more.

Key Differences Between Business and Corporate Lawyers

Differentiating between business and corporate law is essential to help businesses understand who they need in what situation.

  • Corporate lawyers establish legal rules and guidelines that their employers follow when purchasing or selling goods in the market. On the other hand, business lawyers examine a company’s overall business.
  • Corporate lawyers have a significant influence on the practices of an organization, this is especially true because companies and organizations usually find themselves in a lot of legal battles against other businesses or the government. A corporate lawyer’s main focus is the health and welfare of the employer’s business, the investors’ rights and privileges as well as how they are administered, and legal issues applying to the company’s management. Business lawyers take a more general approach to understanding the impact of the law on businesses and business entities.
  • Business law deals with the fundamental legalities required for new businesses or organizations to be formed while corporate law focuses more on the activities, operations, and validity of organizations. Summarily, corporate lawyers write contracts and business lawyers review them.
  • Business lawyers make sure that companies and organizations comply with the local laws guiding business entity formations, dissolutions, mergers and acquisitions, and more.

What Type Of Work Do Business and Corporate Lawyers Do?

Business and Corporate lawyers are often on the go or behind their desks at work. Contrary to popular belief, these professionals rarely show up in court – except when necessary. For many corporate or business lawyers, their job is mostly transactional – they help businesses to avoid legal issues that may drag on for long periods of time and cost them large amounts of money. Businesses, firms, and organizations who have corporate lawyers on their staff often utilize or count on their expertise dealing with the following areas;

Contracts – Corporate lawyers offer their legal expertise in the areas of drafting, reviewing, and negotiating legally binding contracts. They draft legal agreements between the company they represent and clients, employees, and business partners. They handle all contractual agreements including leases and acquisitions. They can also handle common confidentiality agreements like non-compete contracts, non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), and more.

Mergers and Acquisitions – Businesses expand in different ways. Some businesses expand by creating more arms, others by establishing a sub-business under the parent company. Other large corporations opt to acquire or merge with already established businesses. Business lawyers understand the complexities of these business arrangements and help to protect the interest of their employers. In mergers and acquisitions, business lawyers focus on working on documents that offer a better advantage to their employer while also protecting their interests.

Corporate Governance – Corporate lawyers help their clients to create a framework for how their firm should be structured, directed, and controlled. These legal experts also create a hierarchical structure for businesses to follow in terms of communication and chain of command. They are also in charge of drafting articles of incorporation, advising corporate officers and directors on their roles, rights, and responsibilities, creating bylaws, and drafting policies to guide business financing.

Venture Capitalism– Business lawyers are also important to venture capitalists. They offer the legal help that is needed to set new businesses straight while also modifying the terms of business financing between businesses and venture capitalists. Small businesses in need of private and/or public funding also need the services of these legal professionals.

Securities – Corporate lawyers advise their employers or clients on securities law compliance. This involves a complex series of regulations on how to prevent fraudulent activities like insider trading, fraud, market manipulation, and more. Securities experts strive to promote transparency, especially within publicly traded companies.

Educational Requirement

A Juris doctorate degree is required for anyone who wishes to become a corporate lawyer. Most employers, especially large firms and multinationals, favor recruits who have obtained their qualifications from an American Bar Association-accredited law school. The corporate lawyer will also be required to hold an attorney’s license that would allow them to practice their profession in the state they are employed. Corporate lawyers are also expected to have been approved and admitted to practice in each federal court.

Considering the dynamics of corporate law, corporate lawyers often participate in continuing education to stay up to date with the latest changes and rulings. Continuing education may be in the form of training programs, seminars, short courses, and more.

Job Description And Required Skills

The corporate law field offers a wide range of areas to specialize in. A corporate or business lawyer will need to be versatile in these areas to ensure that his or her client isn’t being exposed to risks. For excellent service delivery, corporate lawyers are expected to possess skills including managerial skills, administrative skills, writing and communication skills, interpersonal skills, negotiation skills, and more.

Corporate lawyers are expected to be on their toes and ready to adapt to quick-paced environments. They are expected to partake in several meetings with executives and board members to brainstorm ways to keep the company and business protected.

Some other duties expected include;

  • Negotiating contracts with new and existing employees
  • Drafting and filing government reports
  • Reviewing new business relationships with subcontractors and vendors
  • Guiding managers and executives on compliance and regulations
  • Spearheading training workshops
  • Providing supervision to external lawyers who have been hired to perform specialized legal services
  • Preparing joint enterprise structure with other businesses or organizations
  • Representing their employers before court trials and administrative boards
  • Analyzing legal issues and determining possible solutions
  • Drafting and reviewing employee handbooks and guides

Salary And Job Outlook

A corporate lawyer’s salary is typically in the range of $66,000 to $170,000 depending on the employer, years of experience, location, and more. Recent graduates from law schools are often paid the least while experienced corporate lawyers who have risen to the position of Chief Legal Officers are at the top of the spectrum.

Business lawyers and corporate lawyers are both important to businesses and organizations. Business owners who wish to fight off legal issues coming their way need the services of corporate lawyers. Corporate lawyers are a part of their employer’s business and can determine the best legal actions to take to safeguard the interest of the business. On the other hand, hiring business lawyers who are independent practitioners also has its perks, especially when these businesses are looking to expand by establishing new arms or through mergers and acquisitions. Business lawyers also make sure that contract terms are properly reviewed and that organizations are rightly positioned with respect to local laws.

When in need of the services of a business lawyer with experience practicing as a corporate lawyer, contact Norwood Law Firm.

Norwood Law Firm P.C.
1717 S. Cheyenne Ave.
Tulsa Oklahoma 74119

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