William and Mary Law School

Corporate Law Career Guide

By Fred DingledyARCO Plaza - photo by Associated Press.
Updated March 2013

Related guides: Corporate & Securities Law Research, In-House Counsel Career Guide

Books & Narratives


The Corporate, Securities, and M & A Lawyer's Job: A Survival Guide
RESERVE KF1477 .S925 2007

The Corporate Lawyer: Industry Insiders on the Successful Practice of Business Law, Boston, MA: Aspatore Books, 2003.
Essays from several corporate practice attorneys describing the ins and outs of corporate law.
KF1414 C67

Inside Straight: Advice About Lawyering, In-House and Out, that Only the Internet Could Provide, by Mark Herrmann, Chicago: American Bar Assn., 2012.
Compilation of entries from the author's column "Inside Straight", on the website Above the Law,which offered advice on corporate law matters affecting in-house and outside counsel. Includes selected comments posted to the original columns.
KF1425 .H47 2012 (also available in Career Services)

Soderquist on Corporate Law and Practice, 4th ed., by Linda O. Smiddy, New York: Practicing Law Institute, 2012.

This book contains a chapter called "Approaching Corporation Law". It provides both the detail of corporation law and a broader perspective of the profession.
KF1414 .S575

Guides & Directories

Chambers USA, London: Chambers & Partners, Annual.
Selective nationwide directory of US attorneys and law firms. Can also search for firms practicing corporate law.

Directory of Corporate Counsel, [New York]: Law & Business/Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Annual.
A directory of corporate and in-house counsel.
KF195 C6D57

Nationwide directory of US attorneys and firms. Can search for attorneys and firms practicing corporate law, and has job listing search. 

Vault Guide to Corporate Law Careers, by Zahie El Kourie, New York: Vault Inc., c2003.
Serves as a guide for choosing corporate law by offering a more grounded view of the profession.

Databases & Websites

WESTLAW: The Legal Practice Database
This database contains articles from law reviews, professional publications, and more that focus on the practical aspects of attorneys in all types of practices, including corporate law.

WESTLAW: West Legal Directory -- Corporations and Business Organizations
Directory profiling firms and attorneys that practice corporation and business organization law.

Law.com Corporate Counsel

Part of Law.com (home to American Lawyer and other publications), this website focuses on in-house corporate counsel, but has some sections useful to those interested in working as outside counsel, including surveys, profiles of firms practicing corporate law, and news of developments in the coporate law field. Free registration required for access to some features.


Chanen, Jill S., "The Strategic Lawyer: Companies are Placing Premiums on Advisers Who Understand Both Business and the Big Picture", 91 ABA Journal 42 (July 2005).
Discusses the importance of lawyers who look beyond litigation and consider policy as part of their strategy.

Coates, John C., et al, "Hiring Teams, Firms, and Lawyers: Evidence of the Evolving Relationships in the Corporate Legal Market", 36 Law and Social Inquiry 999 (2011).
Based on a survey of 166 chief legal officers from S&P 500 companies, analyzes the evolving relationship between law firms and their corporate clients.

Lytton, William B., "The Organization Lawyer", 33(4) Vermont Law Review 729 (Summer 2009).

The senior counsel for Dechert LLP describes the qualities a person will need and things they will encounter as the counsel for an organization.

Paonita, Anthony, "Who Represents Corporate America", Corporate Counsel (Oct. 15, 2012).
List and analysis of the firms representing the Fortune 100 companies.

Princeton Review, "Career: Corporate Lawyer".
Very brief (a couple of paragraphs) summary of the advantages, duties, and possible career path of a corporate lawyer.

Reisinger, Sue, "Blood Brothers: The Bond Between Big Brown and its Outside Firm Runs Deep", 13(10) Corporate Counsel 80 (Oct. 1, 2011).
Describes the close working relationship UPS's in-house legal staff have with their outside counsel, Altson & Bird. Available on Lexis.

Sparkman, Robin, "How to Stay Off a GC's Do-Not-Hire List", American Lawyer (online) (March 28, 2013).
Describes things outside attorneys should avoid doing if they want to stay in the good graces of a company's in-house counsel. Available on Lexis.

Zabick, Brian, "Walking In His Shoes", 13(10) Corporate Counsel 76 (Oct. 1, 2011).
Interview with Perkins Coie partner Lynn Hvalsoe, responsible for the firm's relationship with Coinstar. Describes how Hvalsoe helped Perkins Coie get Coinstar's business. Available on Lexis.


There are numerous legal periodicals that cover the topic of corporate law. Those listed below are a representative selection of titles that discuss issues related to being a practitioner in the field.

BNA's Antitrust & Trade Regulation Daily
Library has vol. 1 (1999) - present.
Washington D.C.: Bureau of national affairs.

BNA's Corporate Counsel Weekly
Library has vol. 1 (1986) - present.
Washington D.C.: Bureau of national affairs.

BNA's Corporate Law Daily
Library has vol. 1 (2000)  - present.
Washington D.C.: Bureau of national affairs.

BNA's Mergers & Acquisition Law Report
Library has vol. 1 (1998) - present.
Washington D.C.: Bureau of national affairs.

The Business Lawyer
Library has vol 1, 1946 to present.
5x per year.
Chicago: Section of Corporation, Banking, and Business Law.
Westlaw: BUSLAW
Hein Online: Business Lawyer (ABA)


The following organizations are active or maintain an interest in corporate law. They offer membership opportunities, information on the industry, and possible employment opportunities. Most of them sponsor seminars or conferences on relevant topics. Also check the bar association for the state you are going to practice in; many will have a section for business and/or corporate law.

American Bar Association Section of Business Law
321 North Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60654
phone: 312-988-5588
fax: 312-988-5578
e-mail: businesslaw@americanbar.org
website: http://www.americanbar.org/groups/business_law.html
Provides a number of resources for those considering business law in addition to membership benefits.

Minority Corporate Counsel Association
1111 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20004
phone: 202-739-5901
fax: 202-739-5999
website: http://www.mcca.com
Created to advance diversity in corporate legal departments as well as in law firms serving corporations. Website includes magazine Diversity and the Bar and a Career Center with a job bank and educational materials, among other things.

Photo: Associated Press