Horizon Expansion 101.2: Corporations

Note. For a more extensive treatment of this important array of legal job opportunities, see JD Advantage Jobs in Corporations: Expanding the Legal Function (21st Century Legal Career Series, Book 12), $15.00 at Amazon.com or the National Association for Law Placement .

In the initial blog in this series, we examined non-mainstream legal and JD Advantage jobs and careers in law firms. In this blog, we’ll dissect similar opportunities in corporations.

In-House Counsel Offices

While in-house counsel offices are a major stretch for entry-level lawyers, finding employment in one of the rapidly increasing number of corporate law-related positions is within the realm of possibility for everyone. JD Advantage job opportunities in companies are proliferating, and attorneys who travel this alternative route to getting their feet in the corporate door are thriving. The reasons are the increasing complexity of corporate existence, greater scrutiny by governments at all levels, technology and globalization.

The Company Legal Revolution

All of the reasons cited above have a legal component. That meant much more work for the traditional in-house counsel office to the point where corporate general counsels and their staffs became overwhelmed. In addition, a number of the issues on their plate were so complex that it was apparent that the legal staff was insufficiently specialized to manage them effectively.

The result was the farming out of legal and quasi-legal responsibilities to other company units. That included the creation of entirely new units to handle emerging areas of responsibility.

Featured Opportunities

The following corporate JD Advantage opportunities offer the most jobs:

Regulatory Compliance is the poster child for fast-growing corporate JD Advantage careers.  Compliance used to be a major responsibility of in-house counsel offices. However, it has grown too important and too wide-ranging with too many complexities to remain subsumed solely within the legal office. Regulatory compliance is now a separate operational office within almost all Fortune 1000 corporations and many smaller companies.  In some large companies, there are even separate offices to handle specific compliance arenas, e.g., Global, Domestic, Financial, Healthcare, etc.

Risk Management is also trending toward a separate corporate function. It is sometimes combined with the Ethics function or with Regulatory Compliance, although increasingly risk management offices stand on their own.

Every corporation of any significant size has a Contracting or Procurement office. Many  of these find entry-level attorneys attractive because their legal education more than qualifies them for contracting positions.

Some corporations have separate Tax departments. One of my former company’s major clients staffed its tax department with more than 35 attorneys.

Privacy/Data Protection matters are now a major concern and headache for every corporation. Healthcare and financial services companies are in the lead with respect to this.

Many corporations also have independent offices that manage the following legal or mostly legal functions:

  • Board of Directors Staff
  • Due Diligence
  • Technology Commercialization
  • Real Estate
  • Litigation Management
  • Marketing
  • Intellectual Property
  • Government Affairs
  • Acquisitions
  • Labor Relations
  • Policy Management
  • Human Resources
  • Diversity
  • Training

Industry-Specific Variations

Certain industries offer corporate JD Advantage positions unique to their industry. A selection of the most widespread such jobs follows:

Energy

Landman opportunities are abundant. This position is found only in the energy industry, more specifically oil and gas firms and, to a lesser extent, coal companies. Landmen are often hired directly out of law school based on legal education alone, which the industry considers a big advantage. Landmen go out in the field to negotiate mineral leasing rights with landowners, then documents the transactions so that the company can explore for and develop these resources. The work also usually includes supervising and administering the leases and royalty payments and answering legal and other questions about them.

The small size of most gas companies and recent discoveries of vast domestic gas deposits make this job particularly exciting. For example, 70,000 gas wells have recently been brought to market in the Marcellus Formation stretching from Central and Western Pennsylvania down into West Virginia. Twenty states now produce natural gas.

A particularly attractive feature of this job is that incumbents are not desk-bound all day every day.

Insurance

Claims Managers and other Claims Personnel. Attorneys are found in significant numbers in insurance claims departments.

Environmental Underwriters and Professional Liability Underwriters have to deal with a variety of legal matters.

Advanced Marketing Consultants participate in insurance product sales transactions in order to explain the legalities associated with their purchase.

Financial Services

This industry also generates a variety of JD Advantage positions, including:

  • Bank International Trade Specialist
  • Bankruptcy Analyst
  • Community Investment Act Director
  • Estate and Financial Planner
  • Fiduciary Administrator
  • Investment Banking Officer
  • Legal Advertising/Sales Literature Manager
  • Legal Product Manager
  • Probate Manager
  • Trust Officer
  • Elder Financial Abuse Monitor

Nonprofit Corporations

Don’t overlook nonprofits in planning your job search. They have gone the same route as their for-profit cousins, albeit not quite as rapidly or extensively. Nevertheless, there are interesting and exciting opportunities with them as well.

Next: Horizon Expansion 101.3: Government