Corporate lawyers advise businesses (which can include different entities such as partnerships, publicly and privately held companies, and business start-ups, among others) on their numerous legal rights, responsibilities and obligations. General corporate practice involves handling a wide range of legal and business issues. Many corporate lawyers work in law firms, particularly large or mid-size firms, where they counsel clients and handle transactions including negotiation, drafting, and review of contracts and other agreements. Other corporate lawyers are employed directly by corporations as in-house corporate counsel. In-house counsel act as internal advisers on myriad business and legal issues, including labor and employment issues, intellectual property issues, contractual issues and liability issues. Clients are frequently for-profit, but non-profit corporations also rely on corporate counsel.
A corporate law practice may vary substantially in both the degree of emphasis and the type of practice. Some large law firms, for example, may expect their attorneys to focus on transactional work, while others combine transactional and litigation practices.
Although the specific focus of the practice may vary widely, corporate law attorneys agree that every day brings different challenges and problems, many of which are novel, involving cutting-edge issues in the industries.
For example, a partner at a large New York City firm who focuses on merger &acquisition transactions and corporate governance noted that he has had the opportunity to acquire a wide breadth of skills and knowledge, and that the best attorneys in this practice have facility in tax, employee benefits, environmental, real estate and antitrust law without being an expert in any of those areas. Being a trusted business adviser and counselor is a critical part of the practice, he said, as is the ability to discuss the commercial and practical implications of decisions beyond purely technical legal advice.
Transactional work is thought by some to be more collaborative than, say, litigation. It also offers different timelines on many projects that attorneys might handle.
Corporate law (also known as business law or enterprise law or company law) is the body of law that applies to the rights, relations, and conduct of persons, companies, organizations and businesses. It regulates how corporations, investors, shareholders, directors, employees, creditors, and other stakeholders such as consumers, the community, and the environment interact with one another.
The most commonly addressed forms of companies are:
Competition law is a law that promotes or seeks to maintain market competition by regulating anti-competitive conduct by companies. Competition law is implemented through public and private enforcement.
Competition law, or antitrust law, has three main elements:
Consumer protection law or consumer law is considered as an area of law that regulates private law relationships between individual consumers and the businesses that sell those goods and services. Consumer protection covers a wide range of topics, including but not necessarily limited to product liability, privacy rights, unfair business practices, fraud, misrepresentation, and other consumer/business interactions. It's a way of preventing frauds and scams from service and sales contracts, bill collector regulation, pricing, utility turnoffs, consolidation, personal loans that may lead to bankruptcy.
In the United States a variety of laws at both the federal and state levels regulate consumer affairs. Among them are the federal Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, Truth in Lending Act, Fair Credit Billing Act, and the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act. Federal consumer protection laws are mainly enforced by the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Food and Drug Administration, and the U.S. Department of Justice.
A contract is a voluntary arrangement between two or more parties that is enforceable by law as a binding legal agreement. Contract is a branch of the law of obligations in jurisdictions of the civil law tradition. Contract law concerns the rights and duties that arise from agreements.
A contract arises when the parties agree that there is an agreement. Formation of a contract generally requires an offer, acceptance, consideration, and a mutual intent to be bound. Each party to a contract must have capacity to enter the agreement. Minors, intoxicated persons, and those under a mental affliction may have insufficient capacity to enter a contract. Some types of contracts may require formalities, such as a memorialization in writing.
Environmental law, also known as environmental and natural resources law, is a collective term describing the network of treaties, statutes, regulations, common and customary laws addressing the effects of human activity on the natural environment. The core environmental law regimes address environmental pollution. A related but distinct set of regulatory regimes, now strongly influenced by environmental legal principles, focus on the management of specific natural resources, such as forests, minerals, or fisheries. Other areas, such as environmental impact assessment, may not fit neatly into either category, but are nonetheless important components of environmental law.
International trade law includes the appropriate rules and customs for handling trade between countries. However, it is also used in legal writings as trade between private sectors, which is not right. This branch of law is now an independent field of study as most governments have become part of the world trade, as members of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Since the transaction between private sectors of different countries is an important part of the WTO activities, this latter branch of law is now a very important part of the academic works and is under study in many universities across the world.
Labor law (also known as labour law or employment law) mediates the relationship between workers, employing entities, trade unions and the government. Collective labor law relates to the tripartite relationship between employee, employer and union. Individual labor law concerns employees' rights at work and through the contract for work. Employment standards are social norms (in some cases also technical standards) for the minimum socially acceptable conditions under which employees or contractors are allowed to work. Government agencies (such as the former US Employment Standards Administration) enforce labor law (legislative, regulatory, or judicial).
Intellectual property (or "IP") is a category of property that includes intangible creations of the human intellect, and primarily encompasses copyrights, patents, and trademarks. It also includes other types of rights, such as trade secrets, publicity rights, moral rights, and rights against unfair competition. Artistic works like music and literature, as well as some discoveries, inventions, words, phrases, symbols, and designs can all be protected as intellectual property. Intellectual property law has evolved over centuries. It was not until the 19th century that the term "intellectual property" began to be used, and not until the late 20th century that it became commonplace in the majority of the world.
Copyright is a legal right created by the law of a country that grants the creator of an original work exclusive rights for its use and distribution. This is usually only for a limited time. The exclusive rights are not absolute but limited by limitations and exceptions to copyright law, including fair use. A major limitation on copyright is that copyright protects only the original expression of ideas, and not the underlying ideas themselves.
A form of protection provided by the laws of the United States for "original works of authorship", including literary, dramatic, musical, architectural, cartographic, choreographic, pantomimic, pictorial, graphic, sculptural, and audiovisual creations. "Copyright" literally means the right to copy but has come to mean that body of exclusive rights granted by law to copyright owners for protection of their work. Copyright protection does not extend to any idea, procedure, process, system, title, principle, or discovery. Similarly, names, titles, short phrases, slogans, familiar symbols, mere variations of typographic ornamentation, lettering, coloring, and listings of contents or ingredients are not subject to copyright.
Copyright notice: The copyright notice consists of three elements. They are the "c" in a circle (©), the year of first publication, and the name of the owner of copyright. A copyright notice is no longer legally required to secure copyright on works first published on or after March 1, 1989, but it does provide legal benefits.
A patent is a set of exclusive rights granted by a sovereign state or intergovernmental organization to an inventor or assignee for a limited period of time in exchange for detailed public disclosure of an invention. An invention is a solution to a specific technological problem and is a product or a process. Patents are a form of intellectual property.
the term patent usually refers to the right granted to anyone who invents any new, useful, and non-obvious process, machine, article of manufacture, or composition of matter. The additional qualification utility patent is sometimes used (primarily in the US) to distinguish the primary meaning from these other types of patents. Particular species of patents for inventions include biological patents, business method patents, chemical patents and software patents.
A trademark, trade mark, or trade-mark is a recognizable sign, design, or expression which identifies products or services of a particular source from those of others, although trademarks used to identify services are usually called service marks. The trademark owner can be an individual, business organization, or any legal entity. A trademark may be located on a package, a label, a voucher, or on the product itself. For the sake of corporate identity, trademarks are often displayed on company buildings.
A trademark identifies the brand owner of a particular product or service. The owner of a trademark may pursue legal action against trademark infringement. Most countries require formal registration of a trademark as a precondition for pursuing this type of action.
A trademark may be designated by the following symbols:
™ (the "trademark symbol", which is the letters "TM" in superscript, for an unregistered trademark, a mark used to promote or brand goods)
℠ (which is the letters "SM" in superscript, for an unregistered service mark, a mark used to promote or brand services)
® (the letter "R" surrounded by a circle, for a registered trademark)