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What is Corporate Litigation?

Corporate law (also known as business law, company law or enterprise law) is the body of law governing the rights, relations, and conduct of persons, companies, organizations and businesses. The term refers to the legal practice of law relating to corporations, or to the theory of corporations. Corporate law often describes the law relating to matters which derive directly from the life-cycle of a corporation.[1] It thus encompasses the formation, funding, governance, and death of a corporation.

When watching television, some shows lead you to believe that most lawyers are proficient in all areas of law, negotiating deals one day and then going into a courtroom for litigation the next day. This isn’t how it usually goes. While both litigators and corporate lawyers deal with corporations, they do so in very different ways. There are two divisions in the practice of law, litigation and corporate, (transactional). Almost every attorney will decide between these two areas either while they are in law school or very early in their career. While some people may understand what litigators do (although they may overestimate how much time they spend in an actual courtroom), but corporate law is much less understood.

Most new lawyers would prefer to be helping in creating a business venture, rather than suing one. Attorneys who facilitate transactions in the fields of corporate or tax law, intellectual property or employee benefits are considered transactional lawyers. In the world of business, transactional lawyers try to set up deals in ways that avoid litigation and make clear the rights and responsibilities of all parties in the event that something does go wrong.

The difference between corporate law and commercial litigation is simple. Corporate lawyers create transactions or deals, and litigators step in when those transactions go wrong. Litigators resolve disputes through the judicial system or through alternative methods, such as mediation or arbitration.

So, what are corporate lawyers? Basically, they advise businesses on their legal obligations, rights, and responsibilities. Attorneys who call themselves corporate lawyers are usually corporate generalists. These are lawyers who advise businesses on their legal obligations, rights, and responsibilities, and provide advice on business structures. They may even evaluate ventures and advise accordingly. To serve the sophisticated needs of their clients, corporate lawyers also coordinate with fellow transactional lawyers in such specialties as tax, ERISA and real estate.

Many firms will use the terms “transactional” and “corporate” interchangeably when describing areas of practice. Corporate lawyers structure transactions, draft documents, negotiate deals, attend meetings, and make calls regarding whatever issues are being handled. A corporate lawyer works to ensure that the provisions of an agreement are clear and won’t cause any problems for their client in the future. Corporate attorneys also advise on the duties and responsibilities of corporate officers, directors, and insiders.


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