There are different law specialties and each lawyer has to choose one specialization in order to advance their career. Be it family law, criminal law, or corporate law. On one hand, where some of the branches of law are interconnected, corporate law stands on its own.
In this article, we will give you an overview of corporate law and things you should do to become a corporate lawyer. This write-up will not only be helpful to those who are planning on pursuing corporate law or are pursuing it already, but will also share insights about this particular branch of law.
Let’s begin with the most commonly asked question, ‘what is corporate law?’
Corporate lawyers are basically employed by corporations to handle their legal matters. A business involves many people and to ensure everyone gets equal treatment, there must be some decided stances, which everyone involved must follow.
Corporate law is the body of laws and practices that a corporation needs to follow. It helps to keep the practices of the business adheres to the law of the region in which it operates. Not only this protects the rights of a business, but it also protects the rights of all the other stakeholders involved including: owners, operators, and managers.
Corporate law revolves around major principles; legal personality, limited liability, transferable shares, delegated management, and investor ownership. To get a better understanding about these five principles, read on.
Generally, the owners of a corporation don’t run the company directly, but they do have a say in the decision-making process and choosing the board members, who run the company directly. The owners according to their share of ownership share the profits. Moreover, the investors are also liable to receive their share of profit from the corporation.
The Delegated Management
As the owners or the shareholders of the corporation elect the board of directors, the board selects a team and looks after the hired officers, who manage the operations of the corporation. This hierarchal structure in the corporation assures the legitimacy and legality of the other parties that are doing business with the corporation.
Just imagine, a business owner wakes up one day and thinks he/she wants to withdraw his/her money from the corporation and wishes no longer to be affiliated with it. In this scenario, unlike many small businesses or companies, a large corporation doesn’t have to shut down its operations. Instead, the owner can transfer the ownership by transferring the shares to another individual or entity.
The owner will sell his/her shares either to one of the existing shareholders of the company or to another person. However, there are some limitations on transferring the shares, but the process is not that difficult.
In case if anyone sues a corporation, only the assets that belong to the corporation are at stake. The law protects the personal assets of the owners. Therefore, limited liability allows the shareholders and risk-takers to diversify their investments.
A corporation distributes its resources and assets to other entities. These entities can legally use these assets and are also liable to sell them. On the other hand, the creditors can’t ask for the allotted assets back like a lender is legally liable to take back a car, if the borrower isn’t able to pay the loan. Instead, there is another entity to take care of this business.
As of now, you must’ve gotten a comprehensive idea of what corporate law is about. Digging deep into it further, let’s find out why is it a separate division on its own.
Why is corporate law different from other branches of law?
As mentioned above, to give equal opportunity and to keep corporations operating on a level playing field, corporate law has to exist. The set of laws and regulations are supposed to bring uniformity in the business operations and make it easier to do. This brings reliability and pushes people to invest in corporations.
Corporate law protects anyone who is part of a corporation. The below list includes everyone.
- Shareholders: The owners are the investors, who invest to buy ownership in the business. The larger the share of ownership in the corporation, the more say one has.
- Board committee members: The owners select the board of directors who run the company.
- Operating officers: To ensure that the business runs properly, the board of directors hires individual(s) to manage the day to day affairs.
- Employees: To assist the officers, they hire employees, who get the work done
- Creditors and debtors: The creditors and debtors are the parties that do business with the corporation.
Does the corporate law hearing happen in the usual court?
Corporate law falls under civil law and it has a different court to resolve corporate matters. When a corporation is sued for any kind of legal dispute, the hearing happens at a civil court. However, if any individual who is a part of a corporation is accused of any criminal offense, one will have to face criminal liability.
People who are part of a corporation, are not equipped to handle the legal matters and they need a corporate lawyer for it.
Who handles corporate matters legally?
Corporate lawyers usually handle all corporate law matters and enable a corporation to avoid violating any law. Unlike other lawyers, corporate layers not don’t only represent their clients in court. They also advise a corporation on various things including how the corporation will be governed, what clause must be added into the contracts to protect the rights of the corporation, how shareholder activity should be regulated, and what factors should be taken into account to submit reports to the authorities.
Generally, corporations hire corporate law firms instead of just one or two lawyers to handle everything. There are many attorneys in the firm, who can be asked to take over the case as per the needs and specialty of an attorney on a particular dispute.
However, a corporation can also hire an in-house counsel instead of outsourcing to any corporate legal firm. In some cases, the corporations can choose to hire multiple corporate attorneys to work as employees for the corporation.
Moreover, a lawyer for a multi-national corporation must know the corporate laws in the jurisdictions where the operations are happening.
Furthermore, if, after reading this article until here you want to look forward to pursuing a career as a corporate lawyer, then here are few boxes that you must tick, step-by-step to climb the ladder.
How to become a corporate lawyer?
Every career starts with the first step.
- Take the first step and learn everything there is about corporate law.
- Prepare for LSAT, graduate from an undergraduate degree and start at a law school.
- Choose the most relevant courses that will help you develop your career as a corporate lawyer.
- Make sure you work as an intern to gain some work experience, while you are attending the law school.
- Prepare and pass the bar exam.
- Once after bar, develop your specialization as a corporate lawyer by taking specialized courses.
- Join the professional chain of networks of corporate lawyers and build your connections.
- Participate in the job fairs that happen at your school or apply for the relevant jobs online.
- Once you get an employment offer, start building your career.
However, if you are not looking to work for someone else, then you can also establish your firm.
To do that, after completing your specialization, rent an office and start building clientele.
We hope that this guide had answered all your questions. If you need clarity on anything else, use the comment section to reach out to us.
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