Examining the Role of a Corporate Paralegal
At some point in our lives, we all come in contact with the legal system. Whether it’s creating a will, setting up a business, or signing a rental lease, we rely on legal professionals to protect our best interest and navigate the complicated world of the law.
With the right training and education, the legal field offers opportunities for stable and respectable work. If you are interested in working with the law, you have many dynamic and unique options within the field to pursue.
Paralegals, professionals who work closely with lawyers on legal proceedings, are frequently employed outside of traditional law offices. Corporate paralegals draw on both a knowledge of business and a knowledge of the law to work on legal matters within a corporate setting. In this article we’ll take a closer look at the role of a corporate paralegal and what you’d need to get started in one of these positions.
What is a corporate paralegal?
A corporate paralegal is a paralegal who works specifically on matters of corporate law. Corporate paralegals have a familiarity with many aspects of business such as contracts, finance, bankruptcy, securities, trademarks and patents.
As with all paralegals, corporate paralegals assist lawyers in their work. These responsibilities often include preparing legal documents, maintaining records, and conducting research. Unlike legal assistants, paralegals often have a Paralegal Certification or other formal education which demonstrates a level of knowledge and experience in legal matters.
Where do corporate paralegals work?
Corporate paralegals often work in a large corporation’s in-house legal department. Corporate paralegals may also work for government agencies whose work focuses on business matters such as the US Securities and Exchange Commission and the US Patent Trademark Office. Additionally, corporate paralegals are sometimes employed in a more traditional law office run by lawyers who represent business clients.
What are some common corporate paralegal duties?
The day to day responsibilities of a corporate paralegal depend on the unique needs of their employer. Working as a corporate paralegal involves many administrative tasks such as circulating material, maintaining meeting minutes and keeping detailed legal records. Non administrative duties include legal research, interviewing and drafting documents.
A corporate paralegal works with documents like limited liability companies and partnerships, meeting notices, license applications, stock certificates, merger and dissolution agreements, and amendments. Corporate paralegals frequently work with the legal aspects of corporate transactions such as mergers, acquisitions, contract review and initial public offerings depending on where they work.
How do you become a corporate paralegal?
Corporate paralegals frequently work with critical and highly technical legal documents. While these may sound unintelligible from the onset, becoming a corporate paralegal involves specialized education and training that demystify these parts of the legal system.
What training do you need to be a corporate paralegal?
There are no strict requirements for becoming a corporate paralegal. Many paralegals begin by attaining a Paralegal Associate’s degree which can be completed in as a few as 18 months.1 Paralegals with an existing bachelor or associate’s degree might complete a Paralegal Certificate program, which can be completed in as few as 8 months.1
If you are interested in working specifically as a corporate paralegal, it is beneficial to have experience or additional educational background in business. Corporate paralegals draw on their knowledge of business and law, as well as the industry of their employer. Michael Alexis, general counsel at The Great Guac Off says students and new paralegals who are able to develop a two-tiered expertise will be better positioned for success.
“One of the biggest challenges of succeeding with corporate legal work is that you need to be both an expert of the law and another field,” Alexis says. “For example, if you work for a tech company that does big data, then you need to be able to both review contracts and do relevant research, and also understand the basic terms and principals involved with data resources and management.”
What skills do you need to become a corporate paralegal?
As you can probably guess by now, corporate paralegals need to be organized, excellent communicators who aren’t afraid to pore over often-complex documents. But what other skills and abilities are employers seeking? To answer that, we’ve analyzed over 87,000 paralegal job postings from the past year to identify some of the most commonly sought-after skills and abilities. Here’s what we found:2
- Administrative support
- Document management
- Legal research
- Legal documentation and composition
- Regulatory compliance
Explore more about a paralegal career
The work of a corporate paralegal might be the perfect fit for you! But even if business-focused law isn’t your cup of tea, that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck. There’s quite a variety of legal focus areas you could spend your paralegal career working in. To learn more, check out our article, “8 Types of Law you Might Encounter as a Paralegal.”
1Completion time is dependent on number of transfer credits accepted and the number of courses completed each term.
2Burning-Glass.com (analysis of 87,055 paralegal job postings, January 1, 2019 – December 31, 2019)