The legal profession includes countless specializations. Rather than having generalized lawyers who are able to do everything competently; legal firms tend to concentrate on a given area. There are, however, specialists who are forced to straddle multiple fields; bringing together knowledge of criminal, civil, and commercial law into a single package – and among these legal jacks-of-all-trades, we find the corporate lawyer.
But what exactly does a corporate law firm do, and why is it necessary?
What is a corporate lawyer?
A corporate lawyer’s job is to guide a given company; ensuring that they’re staying on the right side of the law. The exact nature of the work will depend on the company in question, and its goals.
A good corporate lawyer will have an excellent knowledge of the relevant law, as well as an idea of the direction of travel as far as new legislation is concerned. If the law is likely to change in a few years’ time, then the advice provided should reflect this.
To excel, the lawyer will need to be able to build trust with clients and to develop a lasting working relationship. Having a degree can help with the technical and knowledge-based skills; but in order to build the interpersonal skills needed, on-the-job training might be preferable.
What are the main tasks performed by a corporate lawyer?
One of the appealing features of a job in corporate law is the variety of work on offer. A multitude of tasks present themselves, and no two working days are likely to be entirely the same.
If a company is selling products or assets, then a contract setting out what is being sold should be drawn up. This is what will help both parties to avoid costly disputes later down the line. A competent corporate lawyer will be able to identify the likely areas of confusion and ambiguity and eliminate them through a carefully worded contract.
Similarly, if two companies are being merged into a single entity, then the legal small-print can have enormous ramifications. In the case of large organizations, the scope and importance of the task will necessitate a fairly large team of lawyers working in tandem.
Certain kinds of companies depend on the strength of their ideas. Fortunately, there are legal ways via which these businesses can prevent their ideas from being stolen. The ideas in question might be the code to a new and revolutionary piece of software, or a fictional character; or the design for a new invention. Whatever the nature of the intellectual property; a competent corporate lawyer will guide the company through the process of protecting it.
A corporate lawyer is often a longstanding servant (if not an employee) of a given company. They’ll maintain a relationship over many years, and become familiar with the shape and needs of the client company. International law firms with offices in multiple countries have the advantage of being able to draw upon highly specialized knowledge when required; such that no legal challenge is insurmountable.
Ideally, legal help should be brought in pro-actively – perhaps even before a new business is launched. This can help legal problems to be avoided entirely, rather than mitigated after they’ve occurred.