The Business Law Career And You; Are You A Good Fit?

A business law career is very different compared to a law career focusing on litigation. The majority of lawyers in private practice are primarily litigation attorneys: They file and defend law suits in court. (It is important you understand the difference between transactional/litigation attorneys as you conduct your pre law investigation to prepare for law school.) Thus, most lawyers make court appearances, and often argue before a judge. For the purpose of this article, I will define “Business Law Career” as a career where the lawyer handles transactional matters. For example, purchase/sales of real estate, businesses, representations of businesses and banks for loans, agreements between businesses, starting businesses, and operating businesses. This is under the umbrella of corporate law, commercial law, and other various types of law.

A business law job can include either employment by a law firm or by a business. Some businesses are large enough and require the quantity of legal advice that justifies having lawyers on staff. (Know that in-house attorneys can be litigation based or business law types.)

The business lawyers (either in-house or employed by law firms) will generally not be required to make court appearances. Unlike litigation attorneys a business law job will generally not require your appearing before a judge, and thus you will not be subjected to the timing requirements outlined in court rules. (As an aside, courts generally have strict timing rules that litigation attorneys must adhere to in responding to opposition papers, etc. and this can be quite burdensome) Also, a business law jobs will generally not require you to leave the office. Some people like this because they do not have to deal with traffic, parking, and waiting in the courthouse to be heard by the judge. Other lawyers enjoy the ability to leave the office for a few hours.

Business lawyers that work in-house have no billable hourly requirements; thus you would not have to account for your time. Further, in house attorneys generally work a more reasonable schedule.

Overall, this type of legal career is good way to learn more about business, and how to accomplish tasks for forming and operating a business. A savvy lawyer who has this kind of experience has various options for the future: after acquiring some experience they can obtain a position as an in house counsel at a large corporation and then internally make the switch to another management position within the company (many CEOs have started their careers in the legal departments). Further, a business law career (so long as you have experience) can be transitioned into other management/business opportunities and in certain circumstances can function as an escape route if you discover the practice of law is not for you. Litigation attorneys generally do not have such options, because their main focus is always on lawsuits and court appearances, which prepares them best to continue in the litigation field.

Finally, be advised that it is difficult to begin a business law career. Why? Because there is less demand for the work… any person on the street can file a lawsuit, but most cannot purchase a ten million dollar commercial property, etc.

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