Career Development

What Does a Legal Counsel Do?

Find out what a legal counsel does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as a legal counsel.

Legal counsel are lawyers who provide legal services to individuals and organizations. They may work for private law firms, government agencies, or corporations. Their job is to advise clients on how to best navigate the complex web of laws that govern our society.

Legal counsel may also represent their clients in court if they get into legal trouble. This could include anything from minor traffic violations to serious crimes like fraud or murder.

Legal Counsel Job Duties

Legal counsels have a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Drafting legal documents such as wills, trusts, contracts, and other documents related to business transactions or litigation
  • Advising clients on the full range of legal matters including corporate law, labor and employment law, tax law, real estate law, family law, litigation, corporate restructuring, bankruptcy, eminent domain, environmental law, estate planning, and intellectual property law
  • Reviewing cases with an eye toward possible weaknesses in the evidence or arguments, as well as opportunities for procedural maneuvers that may affect the outcome, such as motions for summary judgment or discovery requests
  • Researching relevant laws and legal precedent to prepare cases for trial
  • Preparing and filing legal documents such as motions, briefs, petitions, and contracts
  • Negotiating settlements between parties when possible, and litigating when not
  • Representing clients in courtrooms or administrative proceedings such as arbitration or mediation
  • Drafting contracts and other legal documents such as wills and trusts
  • Advising clients on legal issues related to corporate transactions or litigation

Legal Counsel Salary & Outlook

Legal counsels’ salaries vary depending on their level of education, years of experience, and the type of law they specialize in.

  • Median Annual Salary: $105,000 ($50.48/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $184,000 ($88.46/hour)

The employment of legal counsel is expected to grow at an average rate over the next decade.

Demand for legal counsel depends largely on the health of the economy. As the economy grows, demand for legal services increases because businesses usually need legal counsel for issues such as corporate mergers and acquisitions. However, during recessions, demand for legal services decreases because businesses often delay or reduce plans to expand.

Legal Counsel Job Requirements

There are a number of qualifications that are necessary to become a legal counsel. They include:

Education: Most legal counsel positions require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in a field such as English, history, political science, philosophy or pre-law. Some employers prefer to hire candidates who have a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree, which is the standard law degree.

To become a practicing attorney, you must also complete a law school program. Law school programs typically last three years and include coursework in areas such as criminal law, contracts, civil procedure and constitutional law.

Training & Experience: Most legal counsel will receive on-the-job training from their employer. This training will help the legal counsel learn the company’s policies and procedures. It will also help them learn how to use the company’s software and computer systems.

Certifications & Licenses: Most states require attorneys to pass the bar exam after completing their schooling. The exam varies from state to state, and attorneys are required to pass the bar in the state in which they intend to practice.

There are also voluntary certification programs that attorneys can complete to further demonstrate their expertise in a specific area.

Legal Counsel Skills

Legal counsel need the following skills in order to be successful:

Communication skills: Legal counsels communicate with clients, other lawyers, judges and other legal professionals. They need to be able to communicate clearly and concisely to ensure everyone understands the information they’re sending. They also need to be able to listen to their clients and other legal professionals to understand their needs and concerns.

Research skills: Legal counsels need to be able to conduct research to find the information they need to support their arguments. They may need to research laws, precedents and other legal documents to find the information they need to support their clients’ cases. They may also need to research laws and regulations to find information that can help their clients avoid legal issues.

Critical thinking skills: Critical thinking skills allow legal counsel to make informed decisions and solve problems. They can analyze a situation and determine the best course of action. They can also use critical thinking skills to find solutions to legal issues.

Problem-solving skills: Legal counsels use problem-solving skills to find solutions to legal issues. They use these skills to find solutions to disputes, contracts and other legal issues. They also use these skills to find solutions to ethical dilemmas and other issues that may affect their clients.

Organizational skills: Legal counsels often have strong organizational skills, as they may be responsible for managing a team of lawyers and ensuring that all of their files and documents are organized and accessible. Organizational skills can also help legal counsels prepare for meetings and court cases, as they may need to gather evidence and information to support their clients’ cases.

Legal Counsel Work Environment

Legal counsels work in a variety of settings, including law firms, corporations, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations. They typically work full time, and some may work more than 40 hours per week to meet deadlines or deal with emergencies. Many legal counsels work in private law firms, where they may have to travel to meet with clients or attend court hearings. Some legal counsels work for corporations, where they may advise executives on a variety of legal issues, such as mergers and acquisitions, contracts, and compliance with government regulations. Others work for government agencies, where they may prosecute or defend cases on behalf of the agency. Still others work for nonprofit organizations, where they may provide legal assistance to low-income individuals or represent the organization in court.

Legal Counsel Trends

Here are three trends influencing how legal counsel work. Legal counsel will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Growth of Legal Tech

The legal industry is changing rapidly as more and more businesses turn to legal tech solutions to handle their legal needs. This trend is causing a shortage of qualified legal professionals, which is opening up opportunities for those who are able to utilize these new technologies.

Legal counsels can capitalize on this trend by becoming familiar with legal tech solutions and learning how to use them effectively. They can also work to build relationships with legal tech providers in order to get the best deals for their clients.

More Focus on Cybersecurity

As cybersecurity becomes an increasingly important issue, legal counsel will need to focus more on this area.

Law firms will need to hire attorneys who have experience dealing with cybersecurity issues, such as data privacy and security breaches. They will also need to develop policies and procedures to protect client data from hackers. In addition, law firms will need to be aware of the latest developments in cybersecurity so that they can stay ahead of potential threats.

A Greater Emphasis on Collaboration

The legal profession is evolving, and one of the most significant changes is the increasing emphasis on collaboration. As lawyers are forced to work together on complex cases, they are finding that they need to learn new skills in order to be successful.

Legal counsel who are able to collaborate effectively with other professionals will be in high demand in the years to come. This means that they will need to be able to communicate effectively and work well with others. They will also need to be able to manage projects and meet deadlines.

How to Become a Legal Counsel

A career as a legal counsel can be rewarding in many ways. It offers the opportunity to work with and learn from some of the best minds in the legal field, to help people who are going through difficult times, and to make a difference in the lives of others.

However, it’s important to consider all aspects of this career before embarking on it. As a legal counsel, you will spend most of your time working with and for clients. This means that you will need to have excellent communication skills and be able to build relationships with clients. You will also need to be able to think critically and come up with creative solutions to complex problems.

Related: How to Write a Legal Counsel Resume

Advancement Prospects

After several years of experience, some lawyers become bored with the routine and decide to move on to other things. Some find that their true interests lie elsewhere, such as business, government, or teaching. Many lawyers who leave private practice return to it later in their careers.

For those who decide to stay in private practice, the next step up the ladder is usually partnership. Partnership in a law firm carries with it both greater responsibility and greater rewards—financial and otherwise. The path to partnership, however, is not always easy. In some firms, all associates are considered potential partners; in others, only a select few are groomed for this position.

In recent years, many law firms have been merging with larger firms, which has created opportunities for lawyers to move into management positions. As the legal profession continues to grow and change, new opportunities for advancement will undoubtedly arise.

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