A career in corporate law always begins with a law degree, but different law schools tend to have stronger corporate law preparation programs than others. Choosing the best corporate law schools usually involves research and persistence in asking questions. In most jurisdictions, law schools offer a uniformly broad education: schools rarely label themselves as strictly corporate law schools. Still, schools with stronger business law offerings, clinics in corporate law, and internship and job placement programs in the corporate sector often glean a reputation in the legal market as being predominantly corporate law schools. Finding these schools is usually a question of evaluating the market, interviewing practitioners, and looking for alumni statistics.
Corporate legal training requires a broad understanding of the law. In many respects, law schools around the world are designed to provide this sort of foundational breadth to all students, as the curriculum of most legal programs is more or less constant within each jurisdiction. Most of the time, the goal of legal training is to provide lawyers with a deep well of knowledge that they can then choose to apply to a variety of specialties.
It is rare for law schools to allow students to declare specialties in school the way one would declare a major in college or university. Still, many schools offer upper-level students the chance to take a certain number of elective courses. Corporate law schools offer a proportionally high number of courses in business entities, corporate tax, international finance, and other related subjects. Some schools also offer extensive corporate law clinics, internship programs, and contextual, on-site study opportunities for business-minded students. One of the ways to identify corporate law schools is to look at the range and depth of business study that is available.
The strength of corporate law faculty is often also a way to identify the best corporate law schools. Many of the top law schools recruit former government attorneys and corporate counsel to major corporations to teach courses, either on a full-time or adjunct basis. The quality of corporate legal training stemming from a professor with extensive national or international experience is often stronger than that offered by a professor who merely practiced corporate law in a local law firm.
A corporate law school’s quality can sometimes also be discerned by its reputation in the business community. In searching for the best school, it is important to look at the schools from which the top corporations and corporate-centered law firms recruit their new hires. Asking business professionals about different law school reputations for corporate preparation is a good place to begin, as is scrutinizing a school’s course offerings. Speaking with law school admission personnel can also often shed light on whether a school simply offers corporate law classes, or whether it can truly be considered a corporate law school.