Corporate Counsel

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Duties: Provide legal advice and services to corporations; may provide business advice; perform legal duties as required

Alternate Title(s): In-House Counsel, Staff Attorney; a title that reflects a position such as Deputy General Counsel

Salary Range: $40,000 to $180,000  (In USD as of Apr 9, 2015)

Employment Prospects: Good

Advancement Prospects: Good


Education or Training - A law (J.D) degree

Experience - Corporate law experience; knowledge of and general experience in business as well as in the corporation’s particular industry

Special Skills and Personality Traits - Administrative, management, writing, communication, negotiating, interpersonal, and teamwork skills; be self-starter, analytical, collaborative, flexible

Special Requirements - States require lawyers to be admitted to their state bar; federal courts require registration to practice

Required Qualifications may also include the followings:

• A Juris Doctor or equivalent degree from a law school accredited by the American Bar Association.
• Admission to the State Bar of California (or eligibility under the Registered In-House Counsel provisions of the State Bar of California), and professional licensure in good standing without any instances of suspension, revocation, censure or other adverse events in any jurisdiction.
• Excellence in academic achievement.
• A minimum of 5 years of legal or legal-related work experience either with a law firm and/or in-house legal department involving the performance of labor and employment legal services - with a strong preference for experience working with hospitals, health systems, providers, or health care delivery organizations.
• Demonstrated excellent working knowledge and primary focus of prior work experience in the following substantive legal areas: NLRA, wage and hour, employment discrimination, employee leave and disability issues, labor arbitrations, collective bargaining, independent contractor issues, immigration, and all other aspects of labor and employment law.
• Familiarity with or willingness to learn and understand the key operational and strategic issues currently affecting hospitals, health systems, health care providers, health care delivery organizations and/or integrated delivery systems, with a particular focus on the labor and employment considerations associated therewith.
• Familiarity with or willingness to learn and understand the legal and operational issues unique to faith-based health care systems.
• Experience with navigating complex and dynamic corporate organizations.
• Demonstrated ability to identify legal risks, apply relevant law and organizational policies, and develop effective strategies for resolving or responding to the issues or risks.
• Excellent written and verbal communication skills, including the communication of complex legal and compliance concepts in a clear, concise and practical manner.
• Demonstrated ability to multi-task, and to manage and turn-around significant and diverse work flow in an effective and timely manner.
• Demonstrated ability to work closely and maintain good working relationships with and relate well to highly driven, diverse executives and personalities in an attorney-client setting.
• Demonstrated ability to work in a dynamic and challenging law firm or in-house legal department environment, and under stressful conditions.
• Ability to work independently with minimal hands-on supervision, yet exhibiting good judgment in seeking guidance and direction from the GC, AGC-Labor & Employment, other AGCs, and other attorneys in the Legal Department.
• A commitment to (i) the client experience and high quality legal services, (ii) transparency and accountability, and (iii) being a team player.


Corporate Counsel >> Senior Corporate Counsel >> Managing Counsel

Position Description

Many corporations - from small start-up firms to huge multinational companies - have internal legal departments to address a wide array of legal and business issues. The lawyers who staff these law departments are generally known as Corporate Counsels. In addition to corporate law, they might practice intellectual property, securities, tax, employment, real estate, and international commercial law, among others.

Unlike private lawyers, Corporate Counsels represent only one client - their employer, who is the corporation. Corporate Counsels serve the legal interests of the corporations, not the people who own the businesses nor those who run them.

Corporate Counsels typically work in a fast-paced environment. They meet with corporate board members and chief executive officers as well as with management and supervisory staff. They perform a wide range of legal duties, which vary from one employer to the next. The following are some legal duties that Corporate Counsels perform:

• review new business agreements for vendors and subcontractors

• negotiate employee contracts

• draft legal documents

• advise managers on regulatory and compliance matters

• prepare and file government reports

• conduct training workshops on compliance matters for managers and supervisors

• write employee handbooks

• review promotional materials

• identify legal issues relating to proposed products or offerings

• assist in the structuring of joint ventures with other organizations

• counsel managers and supervisors about employee disciplinary matters

• represent their clients before administrative boards and court trials

• supervise outside lawyers who are hired to provide specific legal services such as litigation

Counsel may also have the following duties, responsibilities and accountabilities:

• To perform and manage legal services for, represent and support The company with regard to labor and employment issues under the direction and supervision of the AGC Labor & Employment, including, without limitation, matters related to wage and hour regulations; labor and employment policies; administrative agency filings regarding discrimination, harassment and retaliation; employee discipline and terminations; collective bargaining; employment investigations; administrative hearings, such as NLRB and Labor Commissioner hearings; and labor arbitrations/mediations.

• To oversee, direct and manage litigation, administrative proceedings, and other regulatory proceedings or matters arising out of or related to labor and employment issues as requested or assigned from time to time by the AGC-Labor& Employment, which will encompass the management, supervision and direction of outside counsel engaged to represent The company in the litigation or proceeding, including the review of outside counsel's legal work.

• To perform legal services for and support The company, when and as appropriate or requested by the AGC-Labor & Employment, on the labor and employment aspects of transactional and other matters under the direction of the Legal Department's other functional divisions, including, without limitation, Physician Integration and Strategy/Growth.

• To act as a legal counselor/advisor and business partner for The company's Human Resources Department system-wide, whether at the corporate, service area or facility levels.

• To develop and/or enhance Counsel's expertise, and for Counsel to be or become a subject matter expert, in specific labor and employment-related legal, legislative, regulatory and other matters or topics, with a particular focus on how such matters may affect The company or the health care industry generally.

• To participate on projects or matters related to the management and administration of the Legal Department as requested from time to time by the General Counsel (GC), the AGC-Labor & Employment, and/or other AGCs.

• To supervise, direct, manage and work collaboratively with the paralegals, executive coordinators, and other non-attorney staff assigned to work regularly or on specific projects with Counsel consistent with The company's Core Values.

• To travel throughout The company as required to perform the duties and responsibilities of Counsel described in this Position Description.

• To personally develop and/or satisfy Counsel Legal Competencies accompanying this Position Description.

• To support the Legal Department proactively, both internally within the Legal Department and externally throughout The company, in the course and scope of the performance of Counsel's duties and responsibilities.

• To communicate frequently with the AGC-Labor & Employment on matters critical to Counsel's duties and responsibilities, the Legal Department and The company generally.

• To maintain excellent relationships, work collaboratively and engage inregular communication, when and as appropriate, with (i) the GC, the other AGCs, and the Legal Department's other attorneys, paralegals, executive coordinators and non-attorney staff, and (ii) The company's Executive and Senior Management, Service Area Presidents/Senior Vice Presidents-Operations, Hospital Presidents, and other corporate and facility-based staff (including the service area and facility-basedhuman resources staff).

• To (i) manifest a commitment to The company's Mission and CoreValues, (ii) act and demonstrate behavior consistent with the The company's Core Valuesin fulfilling the duties and responsibilities described in this Position Description, and(iii) contribute to a positive working environment in the Legal Department for all employees.

Many Corporate Counsels are also part of the management teams that provide strategy and planning advice for corporations. In providing business advice, Corporate Counsels must carefully watch that their business advice and legal advice do not mix.

Corporate Counsels may work alone or with other in-house lawyers. Small or new corporations usually have one or two lawyers on staff, while large corporations may have various lawyers, each specializing in one or more practice areas.

Corporate Counsels work a regular 40-hour work schedule. They put in additional hours as needed to complete projects.


Salaries for Corporate Counsels vary, depending on factors such as their experience, employer, and geographical location. Attorneys at the management level typically earn higher wages than non-management counsels. According to the Altman Weil Law Department Compensation Benchmarking Survey, 2005 Edition, the average annual salary for Non-management lawyers were as follows: recent law graduates, $67,500; staff attorneys, $93,300; senior attorneys, $156,300; high-level specialists, $179,500.

Employment Prospects

Opportunities generally become available as Corporate Counsels transfer to other jobs, advance to higher positions, or retire. Employers will create additional positions to fit growing needs.

Since the 1990s, the demand for Corporate Counsels has continually increased partly due to the growing number of businesses that recognize the benefits of having in-house counsels. Entry-level positions are mostly found in large corporate legal departments that have the time and resources to train inexperienced lawyers.

Advancement Prospects

Corporate Counsels who are interested in administrative and management positions can advance to become supervisory attorneys, managing attorneys, deputy chiefs (second in command), and eventually to general counsels or chief legal officers. Many Corporate Counsels move from one corporation to the next in pursuit of the top positions.

Education and Training

Employers require that Corporate Counsels have a juris doctor (J.D.) degree, preferably from a law school accredited by the American Bar Association.

Throughout their careers, Corporate Counsels enroll in training programs and continuing education programs to strengthen and build their legal skills and knowledge of substantial areas.

Special Requirements

Corporate Counsels must be admitted to the state bar where they practice, and must maintain their license to practice by fulfilling any bar requirements. To represent clients in any federal court or administrative office (such as the U.S. Patents and Trademarks Offices), attorneys must first register for admission.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Requirements vary from one employer to the next. In general, employers seek candidates who have experience in corporate law as well as in the particular areas of law (such as trademark law) they will be practicing. Additionally, candidates have general experience in business as well as in the industry (such as technology) in which they will be working.

Corporate Counsels must have strong administrative and management skills. In addition they need excellent writing, communication, and negotiating skills, as well as interpersonal and teamwork skills. Being a self-starter, analytical, collaborative, and flexible are some personality traits that successful Corporate Counsels share.

Unions and Associations

Many Corporate Counsels belong to local, state, or national bar associations to take advantage of networking opportunities, professional services, and professional resources. Many legal bars, such as the American Bar Association, have corporate counsel sections. In addition, there are bar associations devoted to in-house counsels such as the Association of Corporate Counsel and the Minority Corporate Counsel Association.

Tips for Entry

1. To enhance your employability, enroll in a few business administration courses.

2. Network with legal peers as well as other professionals in your chosen industry, as many Corporate Counsels have found jobs informally through their contacts.

3. Contact the corporate law departments where you would like to work. If vacancies are not available, you might ask for an informational interview with the general counsel or other key person in the department. This type of interview gives you a chance to learn more about a company as well as to let the company know about your skills.

4. You can learn more about the Corporate Counsel profession on the Internet. One place to start is at the Association of Corporate Counsel Web site at http://

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