By Jacob Maslow • February 05, 2018•Law School, Choosing a Career and Landing a Job
Corporate law – the big cat territory. If you have money on your mind, this is probably the field of law you hope to get into. But what's it really like to work in corporate law?
Big Law firms often take in junior classes each year, and by the end of the two years, most are gone. Why? It's a cutthroat world, and you need a thick skin to survive. Is it like this at every firm? Of course not. But just like any other field of law, corporate law has its benefits and drawbacks.
One drawback? The long hours. Yes, long hours are expected in the law field, but it's not uncommon for associates to get assignments just before the office closes with morning deadlines. Working 13+ hours a day can take its toll both mentally and physically. But again, not all firms will have this issue.
At some major firms, associates are treated as "disposables" and aren't given respect by partners or senior associates.
Many people use the world of corporate law to learn some important lessons, and the move on to a different field of law. One attorney at Cogburn Law started out as a general counsel at Trooval.com but then moved on to the personal injury field. Others move into completely different careers.
There's a lot to be learned from corporate law. On the legal side of things, you put into practice everything you've learned about business law and learn new things that will serve your career later down the road. You may work on the restructuring of corporations, mergers, and acquisitions, or listing clients on global stock exchanges.
Young corporate lawyers also learn how to be responsive. If a partner sends you an email, you'll be expected to respond in 30 minutes or less. Partners expect their associates to be available 24 hours a day.
Deadlines take on a whole new meaning in the legal world, and this is a lesson that all budding lawyers learn. The firm will expect you to be on time and to meet internal deadlines. But you'll also be at the mercy of the court's deadlines. In this way, corporate law teaches you how to be disciplined, respect deadlines and to be on time. These are all skills that will help you in just about every aspect of life.
Associates learn how to master time management and how to scrutinize every detail. Both of these skills are valuable in any field of law and in the real world.
Teamwork is essential in this field. Expect to work with groups of professionals. Those who excel in this field have excellent interpersonal and people management skills.
Ultimately, corporate lawyers need to be tenaciously ambitious, relentless in pursuing their goals and love a good challenge. There's big money in corporate law, but it can be "dehumanizing" at times. Not everyone will have this experience, but many do.
Corporate law is highly competitive. You'll work crazy hours. You'll be under an intense amount of pressure. But if you thrive on these things, this may just be the right field for you.