— Written by Roma Priya
Amongst the vast and diversified offshoots of the modern-day legal field, is a relatively new and much sought after practice area: corporate law. Over the past few decades, the legal profession has undergone explosive growth and transformation, and corporate law has taken center stage, attracting several law professionals. Gone are the days when law students graduated after years of rigorous training only to don black and white attire and spend days between courtrooms and their chambers.
On the back of the fast-evolving corporate sector in India, lawyers can now attach themselves with clients ranging from multinational corporations, investment banks, and private companies, to small and medium scale businesses, regulatory bodies, and government, and chalk out a fulfilling and lucrative career. Furthermore, the burgeoning start-up sector in the country also unlocks massive opportunities for corporate lawyers. Seeing that the scope of corporate law is only going to expand in the future, here’s an overview of the field and the skillsets that young lawyers will require to thrive:
Key responsibilities of a corporate lawyer
At the very heart of it, the job of a corporate lawyer is to ensure that their clients’ business transactions take place within the bounds of the law. To achieve this, they must have a firm grasp over a range of legal fields such as project financing, M&A, venture capital, and private equity, capital markets, information and technology, banking, and more. Apart from these, corporate lawyers must also be knowledgeable in contract law, tax law, company law, bankruptcy laws, intellectual property rights, licensing, and other regulations, in order to offer all-encompassing services to their clients.
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To get into a three-year LLB course, aspiring corporate lawyers must complete their graduation in any discipline. However, an integrated five-year BA LLB course requires them to have a class 12 certification. Post this, students can enroll in master’s degrees such as LLM in Corporate Law or go for a specialised qualification from a recognised university. Students are also required to intern with various law firms, independent lawyers or companies to understand the work ethic required to be a successful corporate lawyer.
Moving on to skillsets, corporate law demands an incisive mind and exceptional communication skills — both written and oral. Since every corporate transaction is different depending on the type of industry, single or multimarket business, or the size of the company, lawyers must possess a profound understanding of their clients’ needs. They must hone selective expertise, service mentality, and flexibility since they will be working with lawyers, non-lawyers, and an array of professionals from different industries.
To be a successful corporate lawyer, one must have strong interpersonal skills, analytical and problem-solving skills, researching skills, and a responsible attitude. Since lawyers are mostly privy to a lot of sensitive information, the ability to keep facts confidential is also an essential skill.
Career prospects and COVID
Corporate lawyers can choose between working with corporate law firms and becoming in-house counsel for a company. While the former gives them diversified experience with a wide range of clients, the latter allows them to be a dedicated part of a company. Both options bring with them a volley of experience and knowledge, which can boost the remuneration that the lawyer is eligible to receive.
Corporate lawyers need to possess agile skillsets so that they can learn new concepts in line with the dynamic business environment that they operate in. However, never has the need for upskilling been more crucial than in today’s unpredictable business landscape. With the COVID-19 outbreak, several processes and operations of business across industries have transformed. There is a rising focus on digital transactions, which also means that the legal structures around these transactions need to be reviewed.
Contemporary lawyers need to expand their skillsets to include concepts like e-arbitration and e-documentation since social distancing is the need of the hour and will continue to be indispensable for the foreseeable future. Considering the need for upskilling in the digital era, lawyers can invest in online specialised courses that can allow them to strengthen their resume and thrive in this challenging period. Through the constant process of learning, unlearning, and relearning lawyers can build a lucrative and high-potential career in this fast-evolving legal field.
— The author is founder – Burgeon Law an Indian boutique law firm that provides a one-stop legal shop to emerging companies, incubators, accelerators, angel investors, family offices, and venture capital/ private equity funds
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