As India continues its stride towards becoming one of the most powerful markets in the world, the legal aspects of corporate culture are now more relevant than ever. Because the market works on an ever-increasing expansion it accounts for more laws and safeguarding of those laws by businesses.
Corporate lawyers thus become a vital instrument in the working of this system as they specialize in the laws pertaining to companies/organisations/businesses, etc.
Until about a decade ago, the law was only a default option as a career with some joining law colleges as a precursor to a political or civil services career. With the opening of national law schools across the country imparting a higher quality of education, it has become a career of choice for young students who wish to specialize in corporate law or in litigation.
The globalization of the economy and its rapid growth has also contributed to the phenomenal growth of corporate law, both in-house counsel and in law firms as a good career opportunity.
What does it take to be a successful Corporate Lawyer?
Besides a sound knowledge of the corporate and commercial law, analytical ability, attention to details and negotiating skills are some of the key qualities that are required to become a successful corporate lawyer.
Challenges as a corporate lawyer include an ability to achieve work-life balance, understanding business and financials and trying to stay relevant and updated on all important matters.
The advantage of corporate law is that even in the initial years, earning potential is quite high as compared to other professions including litigation. However, like all other professions, it is always the cream that rises to the top and hence with experience and time, very high and lucrative remuneration will be limited to a few.
Corporate lawyers can become general business managers and even aspire to become CEO. It is not very common in India but in the US, many lawyers and legal counsels become CEO of companies by switching careers midstream and getting a strong business orientation.
While impatience seems to be the new virtue, this is a profession in which experience is important and mere book learning is not adequate. Since trends, practices and law change constantly, the importance of reading and keeping updated with the profession cannot be overemphasized.
Corporate lawyers provide legal guidance for employers and clients. Lawyers typically begin a new case by meeting with clients and trying to understand the details of the legal issue. This may include reading corporate filings and consulting with other attorneys.
After assessing the issue, corporate lawyers typically research prior cases and look for established precedents. Some corporate lawyers work in courtrooms and represent their clients in front of a judge and jury.
During a trial, they make opening and closing arguments in addition to examining and cross-examining witnesses. Although corporate lawyers typically work for large companies, they may also be self-employed and contract themselves out to many different firms.
How to become a Corporate Lawyer?
To become a corporate lawyer you must have strong analytic skills, good interpersonal skills and a keen understanding of the business environment. Though corporate law pays well, it also involves long hours.
Before you decide to pursue this as a career, speak with a corporate lawyer to find out what his or her job is like. Interested aspirants must research and prepare to join a good law school.
Eligibility criteria to become a Corporate Lawyer
To become a corporate lawyer, one needs to get a degree in law by taking up a five-year Bachelor of Law(B.A. LL.B) degree course after completing their higher secondary education(Class 12), or by pursuing the three-year B.A. LL.B after obtaining a bachelor’s degree in any discipline. To be admitted into a law school in India, you need to take an entrance exam called the Common Law Admission Test(CLAT).
The next step is choosing a good law school. Getting into a top law school is quite competitive but it offers the advantage of better faculty, infrastructure and education. Graduating from a good law school will also give your career an edge by improving your job prospects so prepare well for the admission test.
While selecting the law schools you want to apply to, look at their placement record and speak to students and faculty at the school to ascertain if it is the right school for you. Finally, you need to determine whether you want to pursue a post-graduate course or directly join a law firm.
After obtaining a B.A. LL.B, you can practice as a lawyer. To specialize in corporate law, it may be a good idea to pursue a post-graduate law degree or diploma courses in corporate or business-related law.
A day in the life of a Corporate Lawyer
Hi, I’m a corporate lawyer and I work at a leading law firm in India that is involved with several of the top players in the Indian corporate scenario. My work is to look after their business and ensure that their working is carried out as per the norms of corporate law.
Besides being a practising lawyer I am also a lifelong student, as a corporate lawyer must be up to date with the changing laws and law practices in the country. Here’s a typical day in my life.
7:00 AM: I’m flipping through Bar and Bench, an online legal journal. This keeps me informed about the prevalent cases and trending of the Indian law society., and is something that I religiously do every morning over breakfast.
10:00 AM: I’ve reached my workplace and I’m currently sitting within the corporate practice area where the majority of the work is to do with mergers and acquisitions of well-known companies.
We also offer general corporate legal advice to our clients. I am assigned to a leading automobile company in the Indian market, and my legal dealings with them are many and varied.
12:00 PM: Currently, I’m supervising a few trainees and reviewing their findings of the cases that they are assigned. Project-based learning allows me to learn established concepts and proceedings in greater detail while the youngsters gather experience.
2:00 AM: Lunchtime.
3:00 PM: Something just came in. A company that we look after has been accused of some serious charges that, at a first glance, seem to be a prosecutor in court as slander. However, corporate lawyers do double up as the secret keepers of their clients and are often in the know of severe wrongdoings by the company.
To that end, even if I did have further information about the specifics of the accusations, it would be a violation of the attorney-client privilege for me to tell you!
My work here is to soften the blow and minimize the damage. The accuser is a second company that my client has had dealings with in the past.
4:00 PM: I’m going on a conference call with the company’s CEO and their in-house legal adviser. In the meanwhile, I took a first glance at the legal intricacies of the situation – not enough to give a complete legal statement, but enough to know what might happen as I am told the details of the situation.
6:00 PM: I took elaborate notes on the matter and discussed multiple what-if scenarios taking into account multiple dynamics of corporate culture, including employee morale, cash flow, and public image.
I’m going to have to visit the office of the accusing company early tomorrow morning with my client to talk. Our objective would be to provide them with a notice of legal prosecution for slander, lest they should issue an official statement correcting their unfair and untrue accusations.
If this happens, then as a token for future companionship, we might ensure that the circumstances that led to their accusations are improved immediately.
6:30 PM: I’m researching on a new case that’s going to become very urgent in a couple of days. In my profession, you need to start reading early so that you’re not lacking in legal know how when the client asks for it. It’s a simple case of business partition.
The problem is that either party does not want to let go anything. At such junctures, corporate lawyers infuse a fair sounding compromise, which in this case seems particularly difficult.
I’ll be here for the next two hours, then head home and get some sleep. That’s about all there’s to my day.
How did you like it? Do you also want to pursue a career as a Corporate Lawyer? We have this article have added something fruitful to your search for this profession. Have your say in the comment box below. Enjoy Reading!