Business Law Career Options and Education Requirements

Business law professionals require significant formal education. Learn about degree programs, job duties, career options and licensing to see if this is the right choice for you.

Essential Information

A business lawyer is an attorney who specializes in working on business law or transaction issues. These lawyers need Juris Doctor (JD) degrees and may have additional postgraduate degrees in business law. Like all lawyers, business lawyers must pass their state's bar exam to become licensed. They might also be referred to as corporate attorneys or corporate counsel.

Required Education J.D.; LL.M. programs in business law are also available (for business lawyers); associate's degree (for paralegals)
Licensure Required in all states
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022)* 10% (for all lawyers); 17% (for all paralegals); 16% (for all finance analysts)*
Mean Annual Salary (May 2014)* $133,470 (for all lawyers); $51,840 (for all paralegals); $92,250 (for all finance analysts)

*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Career Options

Those interested in pursuing a law career within a business environment have a few options to choose from. Those who wish to earn a law degree could choose to become a business lawyer, while those without a J.D. or LL.M. degree might pursue positions as paralegals or finance analysts.

Business Lawyers

Business lawyers are attorneys who focus their practice on business law. These attorneys can work for small or large law firms, government agencies or corporations. Many own their own private practices. They can also work for accounting or investment firms.

A business lawyer's practice may include tax, intellectual property, contracts and employment law issues. They may serve as trial lawyers, who represent their clients in court, or they may be transaction lawyers, who work on day-to-day business transactions. Some lawyers work as both trial and transaction lawyers.

According to the BLS, lawyers employed in companies and enterprises earned a mean annual wage of $169,890 as of May 2014. The projected job growth for lawyers in all areas is 10% between 2012-2022, says the BLS.


Paralegals are essentially legal assistants who work with lawyers to conduct research, draft documents and organize files. Paralegals are not required to obtain a law degree before embarking on their careers; typically, an associate's degree in paralegal studies is sufficient, though some schools offer bachelor's and even master's degrees in this field.

The BLS reported in May 2014 that the mean annual wage for paralegals in all areas was $51,840, while those working in company management settings earned $63,930. The job growth rate for paralegals in all professional settings is projected to be 17% between 2012-2022 as reported by the BLS.

Finance Analysts

An academic background in law could be beneficial for those interested in pursuing a career as a finance analyst in a business setting. These individuals must be knowledgeable about investing and risk management. A bachelor's degree is typically required for those seeking this type of career.

Finance analysts could see a 16% growth rate in all areas between 2012-2022, the BLS states. In May 2014, the BLS showed that finance analysts earned a median annual salary of $78,620, with those working in corporate settings earning $84,280.

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