Corporate Counsel

What is a corporate Counsel?
A corporate counsel works directly for a company to help with any intersections with the law or legal proceedings that a company may encounter in operating.

Corporate counsel are required to interact with several different functions in a company, understand Business and Operations needs, and serve these needs in a manner that is both suitable and legal.

Corporate Counsel: responsibilities
The responsibilities of a corporate counsel are all tied directly to the needs of the  particular business or company that employs the counsel. Typically, a lawyer will work for a variety of clients, however in the case of a corporate counsel; they’ll devote all of their time and energy to a single employer. The scope of a corporate counsel’s work is providing legal protection and services both to individual employees and the company as a whole. This work can include:

  • Legal research 
  • Insight on contracts 
  • Property laws 
  • Collective bargaining agreements
  • Government regulations
  • Patents

In-house attorneys are also responsible for troubleshooting problems before they occur. The working is in stark contrast to the workings of a law firm where the advocates quickly learn to recognize the legal issues in, say, a business agreement, an in-house attorney will work more closely with the business people to establish business terms, identify legal issues and decide what type and level of risk is acceptable. Counsels at higher up the ladder is most likely to function as trusted business advisors and often report directly to the CEO. Therefore, an understanding of the business functions and management comes in handy for an in-house attorney.

The work of an in-house counsel is more like that of a generalist involving a little bit of everything. They work in majority of areas such as transaction, mergers and acquisitions, contracts etc. Also, since corporations have a global presence, international law also comes into play. Although the profession does not demand specialization, the wide array of matters which are entrusted to the in-house team demands high efficiency and versatility.

Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC)
Association of Corporate Counsel was founded in 1982. The Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) is a global bar association that promotes the common professional and business interests of in-house counsel through information, education, networking opportunities, and advocacy initiatives. Association of Corporate Counsel is a global network of legal experts. ACC provides opportunities to broaden your knowledge and expertise through collaboration with peers in your industry and region.

Corporate Counsel Pros and Cons
Starting salaries are high, and are comparable with those offered to graduates from management institutes. Offers can go as high as sixteen lakhs a year. In addition, companies often offer various perks over and above the salary: accommodation, club-memberships, vehicles, coverage of medical expenses and soft loans, to name a few. While starting salaries are high, increases in salary are often fewer and far between than they can be in a law firm or in practice. A company job, however, does offer tremendous security and very good pay throughout your career. Hard work is recognised, and is rewarded through growth within the organisation, and you could reach the board of directors of the company (Aditya Ghosh is actually the CEO of OYO). Some corporate houses offer the opportunity to take on management and marketing functions to those that display an ability and competence to take on these functions. A degree in management is a great boost to your career if you decide to do so.

The Advocates Act prohibits an in-house counsel from appearing as advocates in courts. As a result, the profession will only be useful in the stages leading up to any court proceedings and businesses will still need to engage external counsels for court proceedings. Another con of the profession is meeting the job requirement of “jack of all trades”. An in-house counsel has to advise on a day to day basis along with troubleshooting the possible solutions. It is highly unlikely that a sole in-house counsel can come up with the breadth and range solutions that are required for the job.

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