Study Corporate Law: Degrees at a Glance
Currently there aren't any bachelor's degree programs with majors specifically in corporate law. However, similar training is available through bachelor's degree programs in legal studies, paralegal studies or even business administration with a concentration in business law. Earning a degree in one of these fields will not qualify you for a career as a lawyer, but it can make you eligible for entry into law school.
After completing law school and being admitted to the bar, you could go on to work as a corporate lawyer for a company or law firm. Additionally, a bachelor's in paralegal or legal studies can qualify you to gain entry-level experience as a paralegal or legal assistant.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected that all legal occupations should see an 11% growth in employment from 2010-2020. For lawyers, growth in the business sector may be constrained as companies increasingly turn to paralegals or accountants to take care of legal issues.
|Who is this degree for?||Individuals interested in attending law school and becoming corporate lawyers|
|Common Career Paths (with approximate mean salary)||Paralegal or legal assistant ($50,000)*|
|Time to Completion||Four years, full-time|
|Common Graduation Requirements|| - At least 120 credit hours|
- Senior project or capstone
- Elective coursework, such as an internship or field experience
|Prerequisites||High school diploma or equivalent|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).
Bachelor's Degree Programs Related to Corporate Law
There are a variety of available bachelor's programs related to corporate law, such as the Bachelor of Arts in Legal Assistant/Paralegal Studies, Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies and Bachelor of Science Business Administration (BSBA) with a business law option. These programs can introduce you to the regulations and legal procedures pertinent to the business world, such as those involved in the process of a merger or the negotiation of employee contracts.
Paralegal and legal studies programs emphasize legal ethics and law office administration and tend to focus on career preparation for paralegals in a broad range of settings, including corporations, government agencies and law firms. You can also find that select legal studies programs offer concentrations in corporate law. Business administration programs in business law are more general in nature, focusing on legal practice as it pertains to various business principles and tactics.
Pros and Cons
- Can qualify you for admission into law school
- BSBA programs can lead to a variety of careers in business or legal fields
- Programs often offer hands-on training through internships or field experiences
- Becoming a corporate lawyer will require at least three additional years of study
- Admission to law school is highly competitive
- Lawyers often work long hours and face high-pressure situations
- Licensure is required to practice law, which will require passing the bar examination
Courses and Requirements
In a 4-year program related to corporate law, your law-specific studies will cover topics like legal research and writing, civil procedure, torts, constitutional law, real estate law and criminal law. Other coursework may include accounting, logic and office administration, and you may be allowed to take additional business electives.
Programs typically offer elective field experience or internship courses. In your senior year, you can expect to complete a senior project or capstone requirement.
Online Degree Options
Many schools offer paralegal and legal studies programs in distance-learning format. These programs are available both entirely online and as a hybrid option that combines online and in-class coursework. BSBA programs are also available online, though these programs are typically general in nature and do not offer concentrations in the corporate or business law fields. Be sure to select a school that is nationally or regionally accredited in order to qualify for law school.
Stand Out with this Degree
The BLS suggests that aspiring lawyers take on part-time or summer employment in legal settings in order to familiarize themselves with the day-to-day functions of the job and gain exposure to different legal specialties. You could gain such employment as a paralegal or legal assistant during your undergraduate studies, since completion of a formal training program is not mandatory for these positions; some employers will hire paralegals and legal assistants who have no education or experience.
During college, you may also want to expand your computer skills and familiarize yourself with technology common in the corporate law field. Lawyers often use accounting and project-management software, databases, data-retrieval programs and document management software.
Individuals interested in going into corporate law do not need to study a major specific to law at the undergraduate level. Law schools accept applicants from various backgrounds, from art to computer science to philosophy. Some common pre-law majors include history, English, business and political science. Note that the American Bar Association recommends taking courses that sharpen your skills in writing, critical reading, speech, research and problem solving, which are particularly important for this line of work.