What does a business lawyer do?
Business lawyers help companies of all sizes use the law to achieve their goals, which may include starting a new venture, expanding an existing one, establishing or managing legal relationships with business partners, or streamlining internal operations. Business lawyers may negotiate, draft and interpret documents that were executed with business partners or created for internal company purposes; they also may advise company leaders on management structure, operations and relationships with investors. Business lawyers frequently help clients comply with federal, state and local requirements, such as laws governing securities regulation, business licenses and permits, employment law, and intellectual property and taxes, among other matters.
Business lawyers’ assistance is needed when companies merge, close, or buy and sell parts of a firm; they also structure financing arrangements such as initial public offerings,lending agreements and the securitization of assets. In addition, business lawyers help startup companies choose an appropriate business form and otherwise prepare their officers for the legal responsibilities of starting a business venture. Business lawyers perform due-diligence reviews of a company’s legal and business contracts to check for potential problems. They advocate for changes in the law or in agency policies that would benefit their clients. Business lawyers may also represent nonprofit organizations, which face many of the same legal concerns as for-profit companies. Business lawyers working for regulatory agencies may investigate potential violations, draft regulations and conduct enforcement actions.
What skills do I need to be a business lawyer?
Business lawyers need to know how to use the law to create new ventures and how to manage relationships. They must be able to advocate for their clients’ interests while working collaboratively with their clients’ business partners. They must pay careful attention to detail, be skilled at drafting and negotiating, and have excellent organizational abilities. An interest in legal problem-solving and a familiarity with, or a willingness to learn about, basic business and financial concepts are also beneficial.
What kinds of jobs are available for business lawyers?
Business lawyers work in solo practices and at small, medium-sized and large law firms. Many general practice firms have at least some business clients (and most general practice litigators will end up handling business law matters at some point). In addition, business lawyers work in the legal departments of large companies and nonprofit organizations. As regulators or litigators, they also work at entities such as the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission. Business lawyers can use their skills to serve nonprofit organizations and small businesses on either a paid or a pro bono basis; they can also serve on corporate boards of directors.
What courses should I take?
- Business Organizations
- Fundamentals of Federal Income Tax
- Commercial Law
- Sales and Leases
- Advanced Business Organizations Seminar
- Advanced Legal Research Seminar
- Attorney Practice Externship
- Banking Law Workshop
- Business Bankruptcy
- Business Planning Workshop
- Community Development Clinic
- International Business Transactions
- MSBA - UB Business Law Clerkship Fellow
- Securities Regulation
- Transactional Skills Workshop
- Administrative Law
- Bankruptcy and Creditor Remedies
- Cyberspace Law Seminar
- Electronic Evidence and Discovery Workshop
- Law and Economics
- Sports Law
- Corporate Taxation
- Partnership Taxation
- Tax Policy Seminar
- Collective Bargaining Seminar
- Construction Law
- Employment Discrimination Law
- Employment Law
- Government Contracting Seminar
- International Finance
- Labor Law
- Opportunity Analysis
- Workers Compensation
Consider the Business Law Concentration.
What co-curricular and volunteer activities should I consider?
Speak to the LCDO about gaining transactional experience during law school. If possible, participate in the Community Development Clinic. An externship with the Securities and Exchange Commission is also highly recommended, as are externships with law firms and corporate law departments. Get involved in UB’s Business and Tax Law Association and other groups, including those at UB’s Merrick School of Business. Join the Maryland State Bar Association’s Business Law Section and attend its events. Use www.martindale.com to find UB alumni with business law practices and set up informational interviews.