How Can I Become A Corporate Lawyer?

"Legal books and legal thrillers really interest me. Law, as practiced in the corporate world, holds a lot of appeal to me than criminal law. This is why I really want to become a corporate lawyer. Are the educational requirements and training the same in this field of law as in other fields? How can I become a corporate lawyer?"

asked by Dylan S. from Los Angeles, California

A corporate lawyer, also called a corporate counsel or in-house counsel, is an attorney that works for companies. His role is to give advice to company executives on legal matters. This can be issues surrounding the contracts the company enters into, taxes, patents, government rules and agreements with unions. If you want to become a corporate lawyer—as in any other field of law—your journey starts by finishing a bachelor’s degree. While no particular undergraduate degree is specified, it is highly recommended that you take up a course related to business, finance or accounting.

This will give you a good background on the workings of large corporations and would also be preferred by employers. See to it that you have good grades in your undergraduate degree so you can apply and be accepted to the law school of your choice.

You must take and pass the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) if you want to get into law school. This test measures your aptitude to study law. In addition, you should also be able to provide good recommendations from advisers and other personal references to back up your application. Co-curricular activities and organizational involvement will also strengthen your application.

Law school usually takes three years of fulltime study.

The first year is when you will take core courses that all law students take. The final two years is when you get to choose the courses depending on the legal field you want to practice in. Aspiring corporate lawyers would do well to choose courses related to business law which typically includes studies in accounting, labor law, intellectual property law and real estate law, among others.

Once you have obtained your Juris Doctor degree, you will need to pass the bar exams before you can practice the profession. The requirements are different from state-to-state so you should ask in the specific jurisdiction you want to practice in.

After passing the bar, you can opt to find work as a legal counsel in a company. You can choose a small firm to start in and move in larger corporations after you have obtained experience. You can also find work in a law office as they have companies for clients as well. This will allow you the chance to learn from the most seasoned lawyers while at the same time giving you exposure to the world of business.

Whether you work directly in the legal department of a large corporation or with a law firm, learn as much as you can from your more experienced mentors. This preparation will help you become a sought-after corporate lawyer later on.

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