Corporate Law Career Guide

By Fred DingledyARCO Plaza - photo by Associated Press.
Updated April 2018

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

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. Also available on Bloomberg Law (W&M law students and faculty only).
KF1414 .S575

Guides & Directories

Chambers USA, London: Chambers & Partners, Annual.
Selective nationwide directory of US lawyers and law firms; can limit by location and practice area, including several types of 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.

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.

Chambers Associate
Website affiliated with the Chambers USA directory. Easier to search for firms nationwide by practice area. Includes articles describing what work in different practice areas is like, alternative careers. Includes helpful tips for job seekers as well. Corporate Counsel
Part of (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.


Above the Law and Lake Whillans, "Outside Counsel Rankings 2018".
Website Above the Law and litigation finance firm Lake Whillans surveyed in-house counsel at small, medium, and large companies to ask which firms they used as outside counsel and what level of importance of work they would assign to those firms. The top 50 firms listed by survey respondents were organized into a top and a second tier.

Adams, Amy, "10 Things to Know about Executive Compensation", Above the Law (Aug. 23, 2016).
A former corporate attorney describes the type of work and experience an attorney in the field of executive compensation may find. She also discusses what qualities a good attorney in the field has.

Chambers Associate, "Cahill's White Collar Litigators Reveal How Their Practice Works".
Attorney's from Cahill's white collar litigation practice describe the highs and lows of their jobs, what an associate typically does, trends in the field, and tips for people looking to get hired as a white collar litigator.

Chambers Associate, "Corporate/M&A".
Describes what type of work a lawyer will encounter in corporate law, especially in the mergers & acquisitions (M&A) field. Includes quotes from practicing attorneys about what they do and what type of person might thrive in the field.

Chen, Vivia, "The Fixer-Upper", 35(4) American Lawyer 66 (Apr. 2013).
Describes the work performed and obstacles encountered by Skadden, Arps's Stacy Kanter on a years-long debt restructuring of Realogy Holding Corp. that culminated with an IPO. Lexis ID+password required.

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.

Goldhaber, Michael D., "The Spinmeister", 35(4) American Lawyer 64 (Apr. 2013).
Describes the work Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz's David Lam undertook in splitting Abbott Laboratories in two. Lexis ID+password required.

Marr, Chris, "At Coca-Cola, GC Wants ‘Cult’ Devotion from Outside Counsel", Bloomberg Law (April 26, 2016).
Brief summary of a roundtable in which UPS's and Coca-Cola's general counsel say what they look for when hiring outside counsel.

Practical Law, "10 Things to Know About Startup Law Practice", Above the Law (Dec. 20, 2016).
Former outside general counsel to tech startups briefly describes the pros and cons of working in that practice area, the type of work attorneys in the practice may encounter, the working environment, and skills required for success in the field.

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. Lexis ID+password required.

Russel-Kraft, Stephanie, "How BuzzFeed's Top Lawyer Does Her Job", BloombergLaw Big Law Business (Nov. 2, 2017).
Summary of an interview with Allison Lucas, BuzzFeed's general counsel. Lucas describes the type of work lawyers in her office do as well as the path she took towards her current position.

Smolders, Tom, "10 Things to Know about Commercial Transactions", Above the Law (Sep. 20, 2016).
A former corporate counsel describes the type of work an attorney in the field of commercial transactions does. He also discusses the working atmosphere and the traits a successful attorney in the field has.

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. Lexis ID+password required.

"Who Represents America's Biggest Companies", 23(10) Corporate Counsel 41-57 (October 2016).
Special section that lists the firms that represent the largest companies in the United States. Also includes brief interviews with in-house counsel for several companies explaining how they choose which outside firms to hire. Articles and charts available through Lexis.

Wrigley, Janelle Filson. "Ten Things to Know About Antitrust", Above the Law (March 21, 2017).
Former FTC staff attorney and associate at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett describes the advantages and disadvantages of working as an antitrust attorney, as well as the typical work an attorney might encounter and the type of traits that a successful attorney in the field has.

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. Lexis ID+password required.


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

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

BNA's Corporate Law & Accountability Report
Available in BNA Corporate Law Resource Center.
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.


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
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
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