What are the Different Kinds of Corporate Counsel Jobs?

Jeany Miller

Corporate counsel jobs may be found in a variety of institutions, including banks, hospitals and colleges. Responsibilities are often diverse and complex, requiring knowledge of legal research, employment contracts and litigation. General corporate counselors are likely to advise executive managers and ensure compliance with appropriate laws, while real estate counselors may draft and negotiate lease agreements. Litigation is likely to be an area in which corporate counsel reaches agreements with customers, employment law often concerns a company’s labor practices and intellectual property usually pertains to the management of patents and copyrights. Corporate legal assistants may support counselors and conduct legal research or maintain crucial paperwork.

Corporate legal assistants might do legal research.
Corporate legal assistants might do legal research.

Many organizations require a professional employee who handles matters of law, regulation, policy and strategy. Often known as a corporate attorney, this person is likely to be a member of in-house counsel. Responsibilities may include advising the executive management team and developing strategic business plans. Additional duties may be to oversee associate general counselors and support staff members, manage the compliance department and act as the company’s chief legal representative with internal and external organizations and constituencies.

A corporate counselor may be in charge of advising exective managers and ensuring compliance with appropriate laws.
A corporate counselor may be in charge of advising exective managers and ensuring compliance with appropriate laws.

While some counselors may work in a general manner, such as that described above, others may choose to specialize in a particular area. Corporate counsel jobs, for example, may oversee issues concerning retail and office real estate. Companies that sell goods or services often maintain retail locations for public accessibility. In this instance, functions are likely to include reviewing, drafting and negotiating lease agreements and amendments. Counsel may also negotiate and draft lease documents, provide legal support for property matters and oversee construction of retail outlets as well as manage landlord/tenant relationships.

Litigation is another legal area in which companies often need professional assistance. Credit card companies, for instance, often conduct collections efforts against delinquent account holders. In many cases, such efforts either establish settlement agreements or are placed with third-party collection agencies. Corporate counsel jobs in this area are likely to supervise outside counsel and direct the course of all litigation. These positions may also act as liaisons with the collections department and manage outstanding receivables for the company. Additional functions may include reviewing and revising all prepared briefs, responding to discovery requests and interpreting policies and procedures for collections activities.

In some cases, companies need support in labor and employment compliance. This area is likely to be managed by corporate law, in which the counselor coordinates with human resources to provide advice for employment practices. Responsibilities of such corporate counsel jobs may include handling in-house discrimination charges pending before governmental agencies, conducting grievance arbitrations and coordinating defense strategies in litigation matters. Further duties may be to ensure compliance with all government ordinances related to labor and employment and serve as business counsel to such employee-related functions as communications, security and ethics.

Companies or business owners often hold legal right to intellectual property, including patents, copyrights and trademarks. Corporate counsel jobs may thus manage patent litigation, evaluate patent validity and research infringement cases. Additional duties may include participating in licensing activities, reviewing pleadings and motions and coordinating internal and external discovery. The intellectual property counsel may also negotiate settlements where patent infringement occurs, execute responsive legal action for all court matters and manage the company’s patent portfolio.

The increasing complexity of laws and legal research has led many companies to employ a corporate legal assistant. This person often manages tasks that do not require corporate counsel expertise. Assistants usually research background materials, summarize documents and prepare attorneys for court or other litigation hearings. Additional responsibilities may include preparing financial statements and tax returns, developing employee contracts and maintaining files.

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