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Home » Play the Devil’s Advocate: Choose a Career as a Corporate Lawyer

Play the Devil’s Advocate: Choose a Career as a Corporate Lawyer

career as a corporate lawyer

Corporate Law relates to the study of various stakeholders in a company and how they interact with each other.  A corporate lawyer has a multi-faceted role encompassing various responsibilities with a blend of operational and supervisory roles. This blog talks about how you can successfully begin a career as a corporate lawyer.

The Devil’s Dictionary defines Lawyer as someone adept in “circumvention of law”. Jim Carrey in the movie, Liar Liar, plays the role of a lawyer. In that character, initially, he would manipulate the law and situation to his favor instead of focusing on the truth. That’s how we in India used to perceive law as well. Though, in some societies, practicing Law is perceived to be a noble profession.

The legal profession in India has undergone a substantial change over the years. Nowadays, a student of law is not confined to the court, but, is a part of corporate offices, consulting & advisory firms, administrative services, and a lot more fields. Thus, a career as a corporate lawyer offers several job opportunities in this career field.

So, without further ado, let’s get started…

What is corporate law?

Corporate law refers to the legal framework that governs the formation, operation, and dissolution of corporations. It is a specialized area of law that focuses on the rights, responsibilities, and relationships between various stakeholders involved in corporate entities, including shareholders, directors, officers, employees, and creditors.

Corporate law encompasses a wide range of legal principles and regulations that guide corporate activities. These include corporate governance, which involves the structure and management of corporations, as well as the rights and obligations of shareholders and directors. Corporate law also addresses issues related to corporate finance, such as capital raising, mergers and acquisitions, and securities regulation.

Who are corporate lawyers?

Corporate lawyers are legal professionals who specialize in corporate law and provide legal advice and representation to corporations, businesses, and other entities. They play a crucial role in helping businesses navigate the complex legal landscape and ensure compliance with relevant laws and regulations.

Corporate lawyers typically work in law firms, corporate legal departments, or as independent practitioners. They advise clients on a wide range of corporate matters, including contract negotiations, mergers and acquisitions, corporate governance, regulatory compliance, intellectual property, employment law, and dispute resolution.

What does a corporate lawyer do?

The following are the roles & responsibilities of a corporate lawyer:

  1. Provide legal advice and guidance on corporate matters.
  2. Draft and review contracts, agreements, and other legal documents.
  3. Assist in structuring and organizing corporate entities.
  4. Conduct due diligence in mergers, acquisitions, and other transactions.
  5. Advise on corporate governance and compliance with laws and regulations.
  6. Assist in negotiating and closing business deals.
  7. Handle intellectual property matters, including trademarks and copyrights.
  8. Represent clients in corporate litigation and dispute resolution.
  9. Ensure compliance with securities regulations and filings.
  10. Stay updated on legal developments and industry trends impacting corporations.

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Is corporate law a good career?

Corporate law can be a rewarding and fulfilling career for those interested in the legal aspects of business and corporate operations. Here are some considerations when assessing whether corporate law is a good career choice:

  1. Professional Opportunities: Corporate law offers a wide range of professional opportunities, including working in law firms, corporate legal departments, or as in-house counsel for businesses. The field provides exposure to diverse industries and clients, allowing for professional growth and development.
  2. Intellectual Stimulation: Corporate law involves analyzing complex legal issues, negotiating deals, and finding creative solutions. It requires continuous learning and keeping up with legal developments, which can provide intellectual stimulation and challenges.
  3. Financial Rewards: Corporate lawyers often earn competitive salaries, especially in prestigious law firms or corporate positions. The financial rewards can be significant, particularly as one gains experience and expertise.
  4. Career Progression: Corporate law offers a clear career progression path, with opportunities to advance to higher positions, such as becoming a partner in a law firm or a general counsel for a corporation. Promotion and advancement can bring increased responsibility, influence, and higher compensation.
  5. Variety of Work: The nature of corporate law involves working on a variety of legal matters, including contracts, mergers and acquisitions, corporate governance, intellectual property, and regulatory compliance. This variety can keep the work engaging and dynamic.
  6. Transferable Skills: The skills developed in corporate law, such as analytical thinking, problem-solving, negotiation, and drafting, are highly transferable. They can open doors to other career paths, such as business consulting, entrepreneurship, or academia.

How to become a corporate lawyer?

To become a corporate lawyer in India, follow these general steps:

Complete your Class 12th

Complete your class 12th in any discipline from a recognized school or board. It is recommended to choose subjects like law, business, economics, or commerce to build a foundation in related fields.

Appear for the entrance exams

The entrance exams are common for admission to various law schools in India. Prepare for the exam, submit applications and secure admission to a reputable law school.

Listed are the names of the exams that must be passed to start a legal career as a corporate lawyer:

  1. All India Law Entrance Test [AILET]
  2. Army Institute of Law Test [AILT]
  3. Common Law Admission Test [CLAT]
  4. CUET BA LLB 2023
  5. IPU CET – Law
  6. Law National Aptitude Test [LNAT]
  7. Law School Admission Test [LSAT]
  8. Maharashtra State Common Law Entrance Test Law (MH CET Law)
  9. Symbiosis Law Admission Test (SLAT)
  10. Telangana State Law Common Entrance Test (TS LAWCET)

Earn a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) Degree

Pursue a 3-year LL.B. program after successfully clearing the entrance exam. Alternatively, you can choose a 5-year integrated LL.B. program directly after completing 10+2 education.

Clear the Bar Council of India Examination

After completing the LL.B. degree, aspiring lawyers must clear the All-India Bar Examination (AIBE) conducted by the Bar Council of India. Successful completion is necessary to practice law in India.

Gain Practical Experience

Seek internships or work opportunities with law firms, corporate legal departments, or senior lawyers to gain practical experience in corporate law. This helps develop practical skills and industry knowledge.

Consider Specialization

Pursue a Master of Laws (LL.M.) degree with a specialization in corporate law, if desired. It provides in-depth knowledge and can enhance career prospects.

Apply for positions in law firms or corporate legal departments specializing in corporate law. Gain experience by working on corporate transactions, contracts, due diligence, and other relevant matters.

Continuous Learning and Networking

Stay updated on legal developments and participate in continuing legal education (CLE) programs. Build a professional network through industry events, seminars, and conferences.

Also, read – How to Become a Lawyer

Educational requirements for a career in corporate law

Students from any background can opt for a career in Law. In India, one may opt for any of the below options:

  • After 10+2, 5 years integrated B.A and L.L.B, or,
  • After graduation, 3 years of Bachelor of Law (L.L.B)

In India, one may need to appear for entrance examinations to get into law colleges. Common-Law Aptitude Test (CLAT) is the entrance examination that one needs to clear to get into the coveted National Law Schools. There are other state-level entrance examinations for other government colleges. Hence to be qualified to enter the career as a corporate lawyer, you need to qualify for CLAT.

One can pursue a career as a corporate lawyer by studying law abroad, but one needs to be aware of whether that qualification will be recognized in India. The legal systems of some countries are similar to those in India. As you are aware that India was under English rule for many years, and the Indian judicial system has been primarily adapted from English Law, or ‘common law’. English Law is the basis for many legal systems, including those in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, India, and Pakistan.

In the US, one can study a JD (Judicial Degree) to start with and then study an LLM (Master of Law) for graduation. In the UK, Australia, and New Zealand, one can study an LLB (Bachelor of Law) as an undergraduate law degree, and top it up with a post-graduation degree. But one has to pass bar exams to qualify as a professional lawyer.

Corporate law courses

A specialized course in corporate law, namely the Advanced Diploma in Corporate Law, can be obtained after completing a Bachelor of Laws degree. A student can pursue a master’s degree in corporate law, namely, an LLM in corporate law. He or she can register as an advocate with any State Bar Council under the Advocates Act, 1961. This will enable the advocate to register and practice in any court in any part of the country.

Job opportunities in corporate law

Broadly, one has to work in either of the broad categories:

  • As an advocate, practicing law: Usually, it takes time to settle unless one has contacts and is working under a senior counsel.
  • As a Legal officer owning responsibilities depending on the type of firm one joins

The job roles usually offered are:

  • Legal Officer/Manager
  • Legal Advisor
  • Senior/Junior Associate (Legal)

Corporate lawyer salary in India

The salary of a corporate lawyer in India can vary based on factors such as experience, qualifications, geographic location, and the size and reputation of the law firm or organization they work for. On average, a corporate lawyer in India can expect a starting salary of around INR 6 to 12 lakhs per annum.

As lawyers gain experience and expertise, their salaries tend to increase. Mid-level corporate lawyers with 5 to 10 years of experience can earn between INR 12 to 25 lakhs per annum, while senior-level lawyers with significant experience and expertise can earn salaries ranging from INR 25 lakhs to several lakhs per annum.

It’s important to note that these figures are approximate and can vary significantly depending on individual circumstances. Corporate lawyers working at top-tier law firms or multinational corporations in major cities such as Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, or Hyderabad tend to earn higher salaries compared to those working at smaller firms or in smaller towns.

Bonuses, incentives, and other perks can also contribute to the overall compensation package of a corporate lawyer in India.


A career as a corporate lawyer can be an appealing choice for those with an interest in the legal aspects of business and a desire to work with corporations, businesses, and other entities. It offers numerous professional opportunities, intellectual stimulation, and the potential for financial rewards.

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Career as a Corporate Lawyer: FAQs

What is the typical career path for a corporate lawyer?

The typical career path for a corporate lawyer starts with earning a law degree and passing the bar exam. Afterward, many lawyers begin their careers as associates in law firms or as in-house counsel for corporations. With experience, they may progress to senior associate roles, partnerships in law firms, or executive positions within corporate legal departments.

What skills are important for a successful career as a corporate lawyer?

Important skills for a successful career as a corporate lawyer include strong analytical and problem-solving skills, excellent communication and negotiation abilities, attention to detail, business acumen, and the ability to work effectively as part of a team. Additionally, organizational skills, time management, and the ability to handle high-pressure situations are valuable.

Is it necessary to work in a law firm before transitioning to an in-house corporate legal role?

While it is not mandatory, many corporate lawyers gain experience and develop their skills by working in law firms before transitioning to in-house roles. Law firms often provide exposure to a variety of corporate matters and transactions, allowing lawyers to build a strong foundation before focusing on specific industries or corporate sectors.

What are some areas of specialization within corporate law?

Some common areas of specialization within corporate law include mergers and acquisitions, securities law, corporate governance, intellectual property, employment law, and contract law. Lawyers may choose to specialize in a particular area based on their interests and career goals.

How does the career outlook for corporate lawyers look?

The career outlook for corporate lawyers can be positive, particularly in sectors such as mergers and acquisitions, regulatory compliance, and intellectual property. As businesses continue to evolve and face legal complexities, the demand for corporate lawyers with specialized knowledge and expertise expected to remain strong.

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