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What Does a Corporate Lawyer Do & Do You Need One?

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Hi everyone, this is Brett Cenkus, the right-brained business lawyer and businessconsultant. Today, I’m gonna build on a video I did a couple years ago called,’what is a corporate lawyer?’ It’s a very short video, 60 seconds and I hit at avery high level, what do corporate lawyers do? That video has had atremendous amount of attention and I wanted to dive a little bit deeper todayand talk a little bit more about, you know, more granularly, what do corporatelawyers do? So, backing up though, going back high-level, something you need tounderstand is in law school, well number one, you would think, I am acorporate lawyer; you would think I would have figured out what corporate lawyersdo before I decided to pay six figures and spend three years of my time goingto get a law degree, but no I didn’t. I figured out what corporate lawyers dowhen I was in law school.

So early on in law school, you know, kind of midwaythrough that first semester, second semester, you know, first year you starttalking about interviewing, what you want to do. And all the students start togroup into one of two broad categories, for the most part, you’ve got litigatorsand corporate lawyers, okay? So litigators go to court, they’re the ones who alwaysknew they wanted to be lawyers, they watch Perry Mason,you know LA law, they watch these–Perry Mason, Im dating myself–but theywatch they watch shows, where people stand up and make arguments in court andthat’s what they want to do, they want to go argue and fight and be you knowthey’re well spoken on their feet, they’re reallyinto the courtroom scene, okay? The rest of us didn’t really know why wewere in law school, trying to figure out, well I guess there’s some reason I’mhere and I know I don’t want to go do that I don’t want to argue for a living. We endup being, you know, kind of slotting in as corporate lawyers or what I callbusiness lawyers or in another word is transactional lawyers. We deal mainly incontracts.

So we form companies, we work through partner-founder agreements, youknow, things like that. If you’ve been watching my mastering businesspartnership video series you know that’s a lot of what I do. I help figure outwhat people’s deal is, you know, here in the air and put it into acontract form. We merge companies together, we help them raise capital. Ourworld isn’t the world of courtrooms. I do a little bit of dispute work withpartners and founders and a tiny, tiny little bit of litigation but really rarelymore than most transactional lawyers, who can go their wholecareer without going into court.

So we deal with contracts and litigators theygo to court. There are other more niche areas of law: there’s bankruptcy, there’semployment law, you know some employment lawyers draft employment agreements, someargue them in court so they could be kind of corporate and litigation,there’s intellectual property, there’s all sorts of different hybrids andniches, but for the most part, you’ve got corporate or business and transactionaland you’ve got litigators. The thing to know is that corporate lawyers arebusiness generalists, for the most part. We’re usually the first call whensomeone’s starting a company. We help form that company, we help talk about howto structure it, things like that. Most or a lot of business, corporate lawyersare business-people trapped in lawyers bodies or something–somedays that’s how Idescribe myself. You know, I’ve been out of law school for 19 years andjust about half that time I’ve been in the business world, not a lawyer, becausepart of what I love about law is that strategy and business piece and somedays being mired in the details and the contracts and the work is like notstrategic enough, so a lot of us really like that business aspect and that’sreally, ideally what you’re looking for in a good corporate lawyer–someonewho’s got a business mind, who enjoys that, who’s a quick study in hiscommercial–is another term you’ll hear, which is really understand that this isabout getting a deal done, having it makes sense, they can quantify risk andthings like that.

So that’s what a corporate lawyer does. Again, heavy oncontracts, but you want one who understands the business world and lovesthat sort of stuff. They’re not interested in disputes and litigationand all that sort of stuff. So, if you’ve got more questions, drop a comment, sendme an email. We’d love to hear from you. These videos that I put out are reallydriven by what you want to hear. Again, that’s why I’m doing this one to buildonto the the one that’s been so successful or had so much attentionabout ‘what does is corporate lawyer’. So I hope you enjoyed it today. Thanks.

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