Corporate Lawyer

What are they and what do they do?
Tags: summer jobs, career
Apr 2, 2023

What does the term corporate lawyer actually mean?

To be honest, it is a vague term that isn’t really used by legal professionals in the same way it is by the general public. To the public it tends to mean any lawyer who wears a suit to work. 

If the term is used by an attorney it typically means one of two things. 

Either the attorney is using it colloquially to the general public in order to easily explain what they do for work because people’s eyes tend to glaze over when lawyers start talking about some complex thing they do every day. 


The attorney works nearly exclusively with corporations and practices corporate law. This might be at a private law firm, big or small, or might be as in house counsel for a corporation. A corporate lawyer is a legal expert who gives advice to businesses about their legal rights and duties. They represent the company as a whole, rather than its workers or shareholders. Companies work with corporate lawyers to make choices that follow laws and rules. Corporate law includes all legal matters related to starting, running, or owning a business. This job can be different based on the clients, who can include not just corporations, but also partnerships, limited liability companies, and business trusts.

The rest of this article goes into detail trying to explain what a corporate lawyer does, and discusses a corporate lawyer’s salary. 

What do corporate lawyers do?

Corporate lawyers help businesses follow laws and make choices based on those laws. They understand the rights of a company, review business activities, help with legal choices, and make sure business deals are legal. They may represent their clients in court or during meetings with regulators. Corporate lawyers also help start, run, and close businesses. Their job duties include:

  1. Contracts: Writing, reviewing, and making deals on legal contracts.
  2. Securities: Making sure companies follow laws about stocks and preventing fraud.
  3. Mergers and acquisitions: Helping companies merge or one company buy another.
  4. Venture capital: Helping businesses find money through financing.
  5. Corporate governance: Helping clients create ways to manage their company.

What are the requirements to become a corporate lawyer?

There aren't any special requirements above being a lawyer to become a corporate lawyer. It can help to have business experience or to have an undergrad degree that is business focused, but it isn't necessary.

To become a corporate lawyer, you need:

  1. Undergraduate degree: A bachelor's degree, that can get you into law school
  2. Juris Doctor degree: A law degree from a school approved by the American Bar Association.
  3. License: Passing a state bar exam or the Unified Bar Exam (UBE) to practice law in a state.
  4. Continuing education: Some states require ongoing education to keep a law license.

What are the top 8 skills corporate lawyers should have?

Corporate lawyers need both hard skills, like legal knowledge, and soft skills, like working with others. Examples of important skills for corporate lawyers are:

  1. Time management
  2. Problem-solving
  3. Research
  4. Analytical thinking
  5. Collaboration
  6. Persuasive communication
  7. Organization
  8. Written communication

What is work life like for corporate lawyers?

Corporate lawyers can work at law firms, government agencies, or as in-house lawyers for companies. They usually work in offices, and sometimes go to court. They may travel for their job and the typical work week can vary widely from as few as 40 hours a week to 80+ hours per week.

The work-life balance and culture that corporate lawyers face is dependent on a few factors, like the city they work in, the firm they work for, and their direct supervisor. 

What is the average corporate lawyer salary?

According to Indeed, in 2023 the average yearly salary for corporate lawyers is $132,690. 

This varies based on factors like location, experience, and employer. Extra education, like a Master of Law (LLM) degree, can also affect pay.

Corporate lawyer salaries tend to be bimodal with a long tail. This means that a lot of corporate lawyers make good money, but not a huge amount, and some corporate lawyers make a ton of money. A ton of money meaning in the hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars per year. 

The corporate salaries that are on the high side are typically senior counsel at large corporations, or senior associates and partners at Big Law firms. 

Related Articles

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  2. Is Law School Worth It?
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Windsor MIT '22, Harvard College Advisor

I am the half of LSD that didn't take the LSAT, or go to law school (Sorry about that). But I did go to MIT business school while surrounded by law students and lawyers, so I am somewhat qualified to talk about the intricacies of law school apps and finances.

Windsor (the dog) didn't write this but he WAS a Resident Tutor and career advisor at Harvard College with me, so deserves some credit.

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Understood, thanks! Having said that, I’m still going to be trying for it. I think I would have plenty of career options if academia didn’t work out, but I would love to be able to transfer to the “top of the top” and keeping the academia option open. Question is which would be better for that: BU or ND?
has anyone who applied in april heard back?
probably equal but id feel better at ND
BU and ND are peer schools, so I'm not sure it matters that much. My gut says BU, just because it is in the same geographic region as many of the schools that prepare you for academia.
Thanks so much, everybody! I have a friend who is a professor at ND Law, so will get his perspective later today as well. I think the two schools are pretty equal as well, and I have good connections with both geographies/schools, so this is a tough decision. But thanks for your two cents!
^ @waytoooldforschool
about 50% come from HYS
80% from the top 14
I found going into academia from Columbia to be pretty easy.
But I had practice experience first, too.
Should I schedule a meeting with admissions for a school I'm WL at to update them on my GPA/Completion of degree, or just send an email?
Just send an email
@WayTooOldForSchool: retake the lsat if you can
Considering you got waitlisted with a 163 you would likely get full rides with 170+
Write a complaint for defamation of character, pareental alienation, abuse of the court process.
Colorado jefferson county court corruption
Can a splitter (3.4/177) get into Stanford or Harvard? Or full ride at other t14?
Harvard and Stanford are unlikely, but two over the past several years have gotten into Harvard off the waitlist, so you might as well try. Even getting into a T14 is not guaranteed. But, historically, folks with your stats have had a decent shot (like 50/50) at places like Penn, UVA, Michigan, Northwestern, and Georgetown. And, many of those folks who were accepted received a decent scholarship. but, only a very small number got a full ride. I think it really depends on your softs for that. And, in any case, I would apply to places like UCLA, WashU, BU, GW, Fordham, and Emory if you want to be sure that you'll have an acceptance, especially if you are shooting for a full ride. The more you apply to, the better your chance that one will send a full ride your way.
What if the 3.4 is because of severe adversity and paired with rare softs
Or 3.5 in my case
Well, I'm just looking at past data: https://www.lsd.law/search/2Dsxe
Presumably, some of those people wrote GPA addenda discussing adversity, or had rare softs (you can look at individual users to see how they rated their own softs), but the data will never be able to tell us the likelihood of any individual case. But, yes, having rare softs or having overcome adversity matters, as does work experience. I received a full ride from a T14 with a 176/3.6, and I'm guessing my softs/background mattered.
Why LDS has not updated ranking?!
Because the rankings this year were even sillier than usual?
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