Should you’re excited by how businesses operate based mostly on the law, corporate law could also be a superb career path for you. In this role, you want authorized expertise to assist firms follow laws and laws and reduce litigation risks while conducting business. With expertise, you may work your way up to the senior-level function of a chief legal officer (CLO). In this article, we clarify the role of a chief legal officer, how to become one and reply some continuously asked questions on this profession.

Key takeaways

A CLO is a legal executive who helps an organization comply with legal and regulatory issues.

A CLO is an adviser to different company officers and board members to reduce legal risks.

A CLO is normally probably the most highly effective authorized executive in a publicly traded company.


What is a chief legal officer?

A chief authorized officer is a lawyer with a Juris Doctor (JD) degree, state license and in depth corporate experience. Because the head of a corporate legal department, a CLO is chargeable for overseeing an organization’s legal affairs. They have in depth authorized backgrounds with previous positions as head authorized, first common counsel and law firm partner before becoming a CLO.

What does a chief legal officer do?

Chief authorized officers often work as essentially the most senior legal executive for publicly traded companies. These firms need to guarantee they’re protecting their employees, assets and stakeholders in accordance with the law.

A CLO’s duties might embody:

Keeping leadership informed of new or altering laws

Consulting an organization’s board on legal advice and rules

Overseeing an organization’s in-house attorneys and authorized department

Educating workers on authorized issues

Setting up training materials relating to legal matters for employees

Making ready authorized forms equivalent to nondisclosure agreements or proprietary information agreements

Growing and implementing legal strategies and insurance policies in the best curiosity of the company

Leading inner audits and corporate compliance initiatives

Litigating on behalf of a company

Understanding contracts signed by the company

Easy methods to turn into a chief legal officer

Follow these steps to become a certified chief legal officer:

1. Earn a bachelor’s degree

Most aspiring lawyers start by earning a bachelor’s degree in business, philosophy or history. Other well-liked majors for pre-law students embody history, business, philosophy, English, political science and liberal arts. Since there aren’t any particular “pre-law” degrees, you must seek out coursework resembling worldwide law, cyber law, public speaking, argumentation theory, communications and any others associated to the study of law.

Law school admission is highly competitive so that you want to maintain a high grade point common (GPA) during your undergraduate years. Law school admissions teams could favor candidates with related work experience so seek out an law firm internship earlier than you graduate.

2. Apply to law school

In the course of the remaining years of your undergraduate program, you will need to take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). Your score is a key part while you apply for law school. You might take the LSAT several times to get a higher score.

Law schools can also require a personal assertion in your application. This is a brief essay the place you explain why you need to attend law school and why you are a certified candidate.

You may additionally be required to incorporate a letter of recommendation. Ask a highly revered community member, corresponding to a professor or previous employer, to write your letter of recommendation. The admissions group can also want to meet with you in person to additional focus on your background and application.

3. Attend law school

It typically takes three years to earn a JD degree. The primary half of the program focuses on authorized writing, civil procedures, constitutional law and property law. Within the second half, you will choose a specialization. As an aspiring chief legal officer, you must give attention to corporate law. Along with programs basically law topics, chances are you’ll examine mental property law, corporate finance, business law, real estate law, employment law and different topics associated to training law in a enterprise setting.

4. Pass the bar exam

Law school graduates want a state license and admission to the American Bar Affiliation to practice law. You need to take a licensing or “bar” examination on federal, criminal, constitutional and multistate law, a written essay section and an ethics test. Necessities range by state and jurisdiction but the bar exam is similar for all lawyers no matter their specialization. You will take the bar exam within the state where you need to practice. Be prepared to pass a background check to be admitted to the bar.

5. Gain work expertise

Many chief legal officers start as training attorneys and work their way up by means of inside promotions or making use of to higher level positions within their industry. They may have a background as a law firm partner, head of authorized or first common counselor.

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