A corporate attorney is a lawyer who works within a corporate setting, usually representing businesses. Corporate attorneys can be transactional lawyers, which means they help write contracts, avoid litigation and otherwise do behind-the-scenes legal work. Litigators can also be corporate attorneys; these attorneys represent corporations in lawsuits, either bringing a suit against someone who has wronged the corporation or defending the corporation if it is sued.
Corporate attorneys often work for large law firms. They may also work as in-house counsel. This means they work within the legal department of a business, helping that corporation to make business decisions in compliance with the law.
There are many different types of corporate attorneys and many different functions that a corporate attorney fulfills. Tax lawyers, for example, are generally classified as corporate attorneys. They work with a business or corporation to determine its tax liability, and how to reduce that liability through permissible deductions while still complying with the law. They may also help a corporation ensure compliance with withholding requirements and other tax obligations.
Employment law attorneys are generally also classified as a form of corporate attorney. These lawyers help a corporation ensure compliance with various employee protection laws to avoid lawsuits. In the United States, for example, an employment law attorney would help a company follow the rules of the Fair Labor Standards Act and the various pieces of civil rights legislation including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Writing contracts is also a key duty for a corporate attorney. Many lawyers who work as in-house counsel help corporations write contracts on a daily basis, regarding many different aspects of business. This may include contracts to procure goods from suppliers, contracts that are given to customers that limit the corporation's liability or many other types of contracts that a business needs in order to function within its industry.
The field of corporate law is broad, and a corporate attorney may perform many different functions depending on which client he represents. A corporate attorney who represents an insurance company, for example, may spend much of his time determining whether the company can legally deny a given claim under the law and the terms of the policy. On the other hand, a corporate attorney who works for a commercial real estate agency could be primarily focused on writing contracts for the sale of homes and goods.