- What do corporate lawyers do?
- Corporate lawyer career path
- Corporate lawyer salaries
- Qualifications and training
- Corporate lawyer skills
- Pros and cons of being a corporate lawyer
- Corporate lawyer work life balance
- Typical employers
- Related jobs
Are you great at negotiation? Do you love a competitive and exciting working environment? If you’re looking for a job that combines your interest in business with your love of the law, a career in corporate law could be perfect for you.
Are you interested in a career in corporate law? Explore the commercial law sector jobs accepting applications right now.
What do corporate lawyers do?
Corporate law is within the broader field of commercial law. It deals with law surrounding businesses and entities set up to make money. Corporate law is under the civil law bracket meaning disputes often lead to compensation being awarded to one party rather than imprisonment or criminal charges. Lawyers within corporate law are usually solicitors. Whilst there are corporate law barristers, the type of lawyer that stands up and represents a client in court, this is mostly within the criminal law field rather than civil law. Most disputes in corporate law are resolved through negotiation rather than in a courtroom, meaning solicitors are in far bigger demand than barristers.
Here are the responsibilities that you have as a solicitor in corporate law:
- Meet with clients and discuss their legal case.
- Advise clients about the best way to handle their legal case.
- Write, edit and proofread legal documents like contracts.
- Negotiate with opposing legal teams to get the best deal you can for your client.
- Represent your client at any court hearings or in negotiations.
Corporate lawyer career path
As a solicitor within corporate law, you have the opportunity to hone your skills and become specialised in an area of corporate law. You’re still working under the broader term of ‘corporate solicitor’ but you have more specific knowledge that can directly benefit your clients and be used as a selling point to clients and to prospective employers. You could specialise in tax, property, lease negotiation, acquisitions and mergers or many other areas of corporate law. This specialisation happens as you progress in your career rather than training and working under the bracket in your first job. Here is the career path that you could follow as a corporate solicitor:
You begin your career as a trainee solicitor in a training contract. This is an educational role where you apply the skills and knowledge you’ve learned throughout your academic career to the workplace. Your work is monitored by a supervisor, and you assist on existing cases that the firm is working on. You might do research-based and administrative work like looking into recent and historic cases that could help the practising solicitors argue a point, or setting up meetings with clients.
With experience, you become a practising solicitor. Once you’re practising, you work with your own clients, dealing with the cases that they come to you with, providing support and advice, and representing them if necessary. In this role, you begin specialising in an area of corporate law that interests you so by the time you become a senior member of the team, you’re able to work on the cases where you can be of maximum assistance.
If you demonstrate your skills and expertise to a really high level, you can become a partner in the law firm. As a partner, you take a step back from working with the law. Instead, you oversee departments, making sure they’re working efficiently and to a high standard. You also work with the firm’s clients. This could be making sure they’re satisfied with the service and happy to stay with the firm or liaising with potential clients and persuading them to sign up to your firm.
Corporate lawyer salaries
Corporate law is a highly required area that is necessary to almost all companies. Since the demand is so high, there are many jobs and the potential to earn a lot of money as a corporate solicitor. Here are the salaries that you could earn as a solicitor in corporate law:
- In an entry-level trainee corporate solicitor role, you earn up to £40,000 per year.
- As a practising corporate solicitor, you earn between £30,000 and £75,000 per year.
Qualifications and training
Since the legal field is highly competitive, having the right education and experience is the way to join the career path. Here are the qualifications and training you need to be a corporate solicitor:
Corporate solicitors typically have an undergraduate degree in law. In the second and third year of your degree, you can choose the modules that you want to take, meaning you can specialise in corporate law at this stage. A degree teaches you all the background and contextual information that you need for your career. Many law degrees include a focus on negotiation and arguing your point which is a vital skill for solicitors. If you pursued a degree but in a subject other than law, you can still enter the legal career path. You should do a one or two year law conversion course to give you the necessary knowledge for the job.
Once you’ve completed your degree, you move on to a training contract. This is an educational aspect of work where you learn how to be a solicitor whilst working in a firm. In order to become a fully qualified solicitor, you need to complete a final examination. This could be through the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) or the Legal Practice Course (LPC).
Since the legal field is so competitive to get into, having some work experience outside of your education is a great way to demonstrate that you have the skills to join the career path. One way to get some work experience is through an internship. Internships often include working for a legal firm doing administrative and research-based tasks whilst shadowing an employee. Through this, you gain necessary experience including how to work effectively in the environment of a law firm and the type of working culture to expect. You can explore the commercial law internships accepting applications.
Corporate lawyer skills
Combining your education and experience with your skills is a great way to get your application noticed by hiring managers. Here are the skills you need to succeed as a corporate solicitor:
- Specialised knowledge of an area of law. You should have a good understanding of commercial law. You also need to know corporate law in greater detail. Throughout your career, you can specialise further, so you become a specialist in a particular aspect of corporate law like tax or mergers.
- Knowledge of the structural organisation of companies. Corporate law is all about rules and regulations within companies. Having a thorough understanding of how companies work, the structure that they follow and how this relates to corporate law is important for giving your clients relevant and useful advice.
- Communication. As a solicitor, a significant part of your job is providing your clients with advice. To do this, you need to communicate effectively. You should be able to use legal jargon when talking to your colleagues but adapt how you speak with clients so you can explain what the legal terms mean in a simple way for someone who isn’t an expert.
- Negotiation. You need great negotiation skills to be a solicitor so you can represent your clients in court or when making arrangements for claims. You may have to negotiate a client’s case with the opposing legal team and coming to a mutually beneficial resolution requires good negotiation skills.
- Resilience. Working for a law firm as a solicitor can be difficult. This is particularly relevant to trainee solicitors and solicitors just joining a new firm. You may have long working weeks and critical feedback to deal with. Being resilient helps you deal with the high pressure environment and continue in the job you trained to do.
If you want to prepare yourself for working in a law firm, complete this module on resilience and taking feedback.
Pros and cons of being a corporate lawyer
As with any role, there are positive and negative parts of being a corporate solicitor. Knowing the good and bad helps you decide if it’s the right career path for you and your non-work-related ambitions. Here are the pros and cons of being a corporate solicitor:
- You can earn a lot of money when working in corporate law.
- It can be very satisfying when you win a case.
- You have very good career progression as a corporate solicitor.
- The first few years of working for a legal firm can be particularly tough.
- It’s a very fast paced and high pressure environment.
- The emphasis is usually on building up billable hours which means you have a lot of work to do for clients in a short space of time.
- There is a lot of pressure to win cases for clients or else your professional reputation and the firm’s reputation might be diminished.
Corporate lawyer work-life balance
Working in the legal sector is notorious for having long working weeks and being a corporate solicitor isn’t an exception to this. You have lots of deadlines which means long working weeks. This is because there is a focus in the field on building up billable hours which requires you to do the work which makes up these hours. As such, maintaining a good work-life balance can be difficult as a corporate solicitor and mean your home life suffers.
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