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. 

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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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@trox99: my friend who is a 1L at washu law had to wait about a month for scholarship info :/
[] trox99
I’m ED and word on the street was that we would get them back today
fingers crossed!
What is the timeline to submit apps early/in cycle for Duke?
[] trox99
Hopefully guess we shall see, thank you
if anyone needs ideas for hobbies to work on while handling this cycle, i am in the process of writing a freaking dnd campaign
i'm in the same boat -- i'm trying to start running more and playing the new starfield game
@EmptyGoat: have you played Baldur's gate 3 at all?
@ClerkHopeful: I have not! I’m waiting for it to come out on Xbox! Have you?
does having a MA increase your chances in admissions?
[] WhisperingWillingBoar
Popcornlover81 - Almost not at all, but no one can really say for sure.
along the same vein, I understand admissions are hyperfocused on LSAT scores, but about gpa - would it make a diff that my GPA was higher in grad school (MA) vs. my undergrad GPA?
[] trox99
No not really
[] trox99
Undergrad GPA is what gets reported for their stats
Ok, that makes sense
Hey, so my CAS transcript evaluation shows my GPA as Superior (because Im a foreign applicant). Does anybody know what superior means in GPA terms? Like a 3.9 or 4?
[] trox99
I’m not sure if you can really put a number on an international GPA
[] trox99
I think it basically means you are effectively a median GPA candidate since you don’t hurt their stats.
[] trox99
In other words, there becomes a ton of emphasis on the LSAT, so you better be above median
But i have heard that the CAS evaluation for international transcripts is categorised into 3: Superior, above average and below average.
So, considering it is superior it would be some kind of a boost right. Cus atm I'm a super splitter.
@trox99 doesn’t know anything more then the rest of us. Contact the admissions office and ask lol
@EmptyGoat: I have been wanting to get into dnd for years at this point
[] trox99
Just from the research I’ve done and things I’ve read… of course I could be wrong🤷🏼‍♂️
[] trox99
Superior is obviously the best but I still think that the LSAT is far more important and is going to be what ultimately gets you either accepted or denied
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Happy Saturday LSD! Hope everyone is healthy and killing it out there!
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