There are many areas of specialization that a lawyer can choose to practice within corporate law. These include corporate finance, securities regulation, and mergers and acquisitions. Lawyers in this field must first earn a Juris Doctor degree and, in some cases, a Master of Laws degree as well, in addition to passing the state bar exam.
Corporate law is a specialization of the legal profession that focuses on companies or corporations and how they interact internally through corporate governance and externally through commercial transactions. All lawyers must hold a Juris Doctor and pass their state's bar exam to become licensed. Master of Laws programs in corporate law are available for lawyers who want to specialize in the field.
|Required Education||A Juris Doctor degree and, in some cases, a Master of Laws degree|
|Additional Requirements||Pass state bar exam|
|Projected Job Growth||6% from 2014-2024 (all lawyers)*|
|Median Annual Salary (May 2015)||$115,820 (all lawyers)*|
Source: *United States Bureau of Labor Statistics
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Lawyers who want to specialize in corporate law often earn a Master of Laws (LL.M.) degree. LL.M. degree programs in corporate law cover securities regulation, mergers and acquisitions, accounting, corporate taxes and corporate finance. Because of the wide range of areas of specialization within corporate law, most lawyers choose elective coursework around their area of specialization. Electives include courses on antitrust issues, international and regional trade law, global finance, intellectual property and legal ethics.
Before pursuing an LL.M., prospective lawyers must earn a Juris Doctor from an accredited law school and pass the bar exam. Most law school programs include several classes in areas related to corporate law, including corporate debt restructuring and corporate acquisitions.
Corporate lawyers are tasked with safeguarding the legality of commercial transactions, representing corporations and advising corporate employees on their legal duties and responsibilities. Because corporate law covers a broad range of topics, corporate lawyers often specialize in one or more areas. These areas include tax law, bankruptcy, intellectual property, zoning or securities. Most corporate lawyers work for a corporation, but some are self-employed or work for a law firm. Some law school graduates become educators, investment bankers or leaders of non-profit organizations.
In 2014, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted jobs for lawyers would grow 6% through 2024, with the most salaried positions for lawyers concentrated in areas such as corporate law. However, competition for jobs is expected to be fierce because law schools continue to turn out high numbers of graduates. The best employment opportunities and highest salaries are typically awarded to those with above-average academic records from prestigious law schools. In 2015, most lawyers earned an average salary of $115,820, with the highest salaries typically going to lawyers with 20 or more years of experience, or those who had been made partners in law firms.
Understanding the commitment and educational background required to have a career in corporate law is a good first step in determining if this is the right path for you. Choosing an area of specialization is also very important when studying for a career in corporate law.