Professional Development Project

Corporate Law

What is Corporate Law?

Corporate Law is the practice of understanding, upholding and defending legal matters related to corporate affairs and business. Many of the legal matters that corporate law sees to advise in include: business contracts, taxation, acquisition, securities and accounting, among other things. Corporate attorneys often deal with the affairs of entrepreneurs, shareholders, business finances, and other business & financial aspects of law. Among these affairs are corporate disputes & resolutions, white-collar crimes, criminal penalties, etc... Corporate attorneys must have a clear understanding of business & finance law, and be capable of applying that necessary knowledge when advising corporate matters and disputes.

Education Requirements

A common misconception is that after completing an undergraduate degree, students may begin to apply for and transfer into their desired law school program. However, to become a corporate attorney, it is required to have completed at least 7 years of of an undergraduate & graduate education. Students wishing to enter law school must have completed all academic requirements to earn a bachelor's degree in a relevant subject from an accepted program. The most common undergraduate majors for potential corporate-law students are finance, economics and business, as these subjects are heavily related to (and tend to be the basis) for corporate law.

Many schools offer pre-law programs for students wishing to study law. This way, aspiring lawyers can use their undergraduate education to familiarize themselves with topics that will be helpful in their legal careers.

Once students have completed their bachelor's degree in their desired (and relevant) field of study, they may begin to apply to law school. From here, admission requires the submission of a student's undergraduate academic transcripts and Law School Admission Test (LSAT) scores. Due to the competitiveness of law school, students with high test scores and college GPA's usually have a better chance of admission.

Once in law school, law students wishing to become corporate attorneys will begin their specialized legal education. This will help students work toward earning their necessary Juris Doctor (J.D.) in law. Many aspiring corporate attorneys will simultaneously earn their J.D and MBA degrees, in order to pursue a dual-degree in business and law.

Top 3 Ranked Law Programs In U.S.A. 2016

Education Continued

Southern Methodist University

In 2015, Southern Methodist University (SMU) was ranked in the top 50 law schools nationwide, and was said to provide law school candidates with great "hands-on experience in legal areas". Located in the heart of Dallas, Texas, SMU Dedman School of Law "has a superior academic environment that stimulates intellectual, professional, and personal development". Southern Methodist University is a very prestigious law school that has produced an abundance of successful alumni that practice law. SMU provides a law program in which students can complete their J.D. degree in 3 years (full time) or 4 years (part time). Not only does SMU offer engaging lessons inside the classroom, but the law program also offers clinics & internships that provide students with real-world experience in their desired profession.

Full-time tuition & fees for the SMU Dedman School of Law are $49,962 per year. However, students looking to earn a degree as a part-time student will be paying an amount of $37,472 per year, for tuition & fees.

Due to SMU's outstanding program, the law school had a pass rate of 84.85% from its' first-time takers of the Bar Exam in July of 2015.

Southern Methodist University

The SMU campus is located in the heart of the vibrant city of Dallas.

A Typical Day for Corporate Attorneys

Typically, a normal work day as a corporate attorney would involve advising clients in legal matters, issues and disputes that he/she may be facing. Corporate attorneys work with individual clients along with larger corporations and business partnerships. Depending on the client and situation, corporate attorneys will defend their clients when dealing with business contracts, taxation issues, acquisition, securities, economics and accounting, among other matters. A common misconception is that all attorney's jobs require them to work and defend their clients inside the walls of a courtroom. While this may be true for some lawyers, corporate attorneys do most of their work when dealing with paperwork and meeting with clients to discuss legal issues. Corporate attorneys will often spend a majority of their time either developing contracts, finding loop-holes through existing contracts, proofreading and analyzing documents, etc...

Depending on the busyness of the day, who the clients are, and what the legal matter is, corporate attorneys' work houses can vary. On busy days, it is common for a corporate attorney to be at the office anywhere from 8:00 A.M. to 2:00 A.M. On more moderate days, attorneys will find themselves at the office from around 9:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M.

Salary & Benefits

Law firms made up of 500-700 attorneys have a median starting salary of $120,000-$160,000 per year. As the amount of attorneys per law firm increases, so does the average salary. The explanation behind this salary pattern is very simple and makes perfect sense. Since each lawyer brings with himself his own clients, the more lawyers there are, the more clients there will be. With each client comes an amount of money that they are paying their lawyer to defend them. By doing so, the law firm is collecting money as each client pays their lawyer. So, the more lawyers there are, the more clients the law firm will have, which ultimately leads to much more money for the firm (and then each individual attorney). Not only will lawyers be helping out their firm that they work for, but they will be making steady connections with clients who may either refer them to other potential clients or continue to use them for their legal help in the future.
Business Laws : How to Become a Corporate Lawyer

How have you moved closer to your dream job?

By completing this project, I have taken a more in-depth look at my desired career path, along with what university I would like to attend. Learning about the necessary degree advancements and career choices that I will need to make has really given me a chance to put my future into perspective, and provided me with a clearer image as to what I need to do to achieve my goals.