The Path to Becoming a Successful Corporate Lawyer

A lawyer is one of those rare career paths which is universally acknowledged as being ‘good’, in every sense of the word. While lawyers sometimes get a bad rap, the work that they do is vital. For every Saul Goodman-esque attorney out there, valiantly ensuring that wealthy clients dodge the law and large corporations vacate their social responsibilities, there is an Atticus Finch doing all they can to make sure that the most vulnerable receive adequate legal counsel. The world of criminal law is not black and white, all laws and regulations are open to interpretation.

The labyrinthine nature of the Australian criminal justice system makes these difficult waters to navigate. We rely upon lawyers to make the law understandable and navigable for the average person. Just as an individual might require the services of a lawyer in order to help them defend or prosecute a case in court, so do businesses both large and small require legal representation.

Corporate lawyers specialize in corporate law. Corporate law encompasses all laws which relate to the way that corporations conduct themselves, both when transacting with one another and with customers. The purpose of corporate law in Western democracies is to protect consumers from unfair business practices, and to ensure fair competition among corporate entities.

There are a number of factors which might draw someone specifically towards corporate law. For many prospective lawyers, the allure lies in the fact that corporate lawyers are responsible for arguing cases where an individual is defending themselves against a much larger and wealthier entity. Corporate law is a necessary force to redress the imbalance created by unchecked corporate power.

If you are considering a career as a corporate lawyer then this article is for you. What follows is a brief run down of the typical path from student to corporate lawyer.


So, the first thing you will need to do is to qualify as a lawyer. Well, before that it would probably be a good idea to familiarize yourself with exactly what a corporate lawyer does. Once you are certain that this is the right career path for you, you then need to enrol to study an appropriate degree course. In Australia, this means either an LLB or JD. These courses can last anywhere from 3-6 years depending upon the exact programme you opt for.

While you are studying, look for opportunities to gain some experience. Enquire with local law firms about any internships or work experience opportunities they offer. Getting some direct experience in a legal field will obviously be very beneficial, but any kind of work experience or employment should equip you with skills that will be useful to you going forward.

Once you have your undergraduate degree, the next step is to complete your graduate training. In every state, except Western Australia, law graduates are required to complete their PLT (practical legal training) before they are permitted to practice law themselves. You can check this list of all Australian law schools to find a suitable one near you.

Develop Your Specialty

After you have graduated with a Diploma in Legal Practice, you are then ready to begin practicing law. The legal field is very competitive, so while there are endless jobs out there for lawyers, they are not easy to score.

During this time, you should try and build out your list of contacts. An efficient way of doing this is to look out for local law society meetings, Steinepreis Pagannin. Use any means necessary to get to know other people who work in, or will work in, your chosen field.

Look out for courses specifically on corporate law. It shouldn’t be too difficult to find somewhere near you. Taking extra-curricular courses will help you to learn faster, and will also look great on your CV.

There are various law societies and other networks of professionals that you could look into joining. This will help you to rapidly expand your network of contacts.

Launch Your Career!

Once you have all the necessary qualifications and paperwork in place, you are ready to begin practicing law. By this point you should already have a reasonable knowledge of corporate law. Once you reach this stage of your journey you will be grateful to yourself for the time you have invested in learning about corporate law so far.

It is much easier to pursue a particular specialty if you have spent an appreciable amount of time beforehand preparing for it. When you first begin practicing law, be on the lookout for any cases relating to corporate law and volunteer to assist on them. This is the best way of easing yourself onto the right career path. By keeping your options open and practicing law generally, while still showing a preference for corporate law, you can develop the full range of skills that you will need to call upon as a lawyer.

Working as a corporate lawyer can be a very rewarding experience but getting there is not an easy journey. However, as long as you are passionate and determined, then just about anything is possible.

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