Associate Life

Stephanie Singer

Life of a Corporate Associate

October 9, 2012 5:13 PM | Permalink | Print

Although law school and the media do a decent job of exposing law students to practices like litigation, criminal law, family law and employment law, there’s not much out there about corporate law, and it’s often hard for a law student to figure out exactly what a corporate lawyer does. Perhaps it’s easiest to start by describing what we don’t do—we don’t get anywhere near a courtroom! Corporate lawyers counsel companies on the legal implications of their business decisions, both small and large, and we help them take the necessary steps (which often involves a lot of paper!) to put decisions into practice and to comply with all relevant corporate laws.

As a member of the emerging companies practice, I get to start working with a company from the very beginning—often, from even before it’s a company. A team with an idea will come to us, and we’ll draft all the necessary paperwork to get them established as an official corporation (or LLC, or partnership, or s-corporation… and we help them decide which one is best for them). We help them figure out how to issue stock to the founders, and how much to save for later employees and advisors. Later, we’ll introduce them to some venture capital investors, and we’ll advise them on the market standards for investments. We prepare the paperwork to document the investors’ investment in the company and to set out the relationship between the investors and the company. We go to our clients’ board meetings and advise them on the day-to-day decisions that affect their business. Down the road, we might help our clients grow by buying other companies. Some of our clients get bought by larger companies, and we’ll handle the merger. Others go public, and we’ll walk them through the IPO process. Once they’re public, we help them make filings with the SEC and deal with the other regulatory requirements placed on public companies.

As you can see, there’s a lot of variety in the corporate practice! That’s one of the reasons I like it—we get to do so many different types of projects and are always learning something new. I also really enjoy how integral we are to our clients’ businesses. Especially with our startups, many clients don’t have in-house counsel, which means they come to us for any legal needs. We get to know them well and form a strong partnership and touch all aspects of their business. And you never know when they’re going to call you with a question or to tell you about a new deal they’re contemplating, which means there’s always something interesting over the horizon.