Corporate Paralegal Career & Training
What is a Corporate Paralegal?
Whereas most paralegals are employed by law firms, corporate paralegals work in the legal departments of large companies. These can include real estate firms, manufacturers, financial institutions, insurance agencies, and many other types of businesses. Like those paralegals who work for law firms, corporate paralegals assist the company’s lawyers in performing a variety of legal tasks, and may have significant responsibilities that are performed with minimal supervision. Despite the name commonly used by “in-house” paralegals, corporate paralegals don’t exclusively work for corporations – they can also work for other types of organizations such as limited liability companies and partnerships. According to the National Association of Legal Assistants & Paralegals (NALA,) approximately 32% of paralegals identify themselves as corporate paralegals.
Corporate Paralegal Job Duties
The duties of a corporate paralegal can vary, depending on the size and nature of their employer’s business. Common corporate paralegal duties include:
- Drafting contracts, such as employment, shareholders, option, and non-competition agreements
- Preparing and filing annual reports
- Drafting organizational documents, such as articles of incorporation, license applications, meeting notices, stock certificates, merger agreements, and articles of dissolutions
- Creating and maintaining corporate minute books
- Assisting with the preparation of SEC filings
- Tracking shareholders and stock holding percentages
- Performing legal research on state and federal laws
- Processes invoices from third party service providers
- Assisting at closings and preparing closing binders
- Drafting financial documents such as notes, mortgages, and financing statements
- Maintaining litigation databases and monitoring electronic discovery obligations
- Conducting due diligence investigations in mergers and acquisitions
- Preparing and filing Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) agreements and conducting UCC searches
- Assisting with litigation document production
- Completing IRS forms
- Attending board meetings, and recording and maintaining board meeting minutes
- Monitoring the company’s compliance with all federal and state laws
Corporate Paralegal Salaries
Paralegals in corporate environments are some of the higher paid in the profession. According to the NALA 2010 National Utilization & Compensation Survey, the average annual salary of corporate paralegals is $58,771. Payscale.com lists an average corporate paralegal salary of $65,000 per year.
Corporate paralegal salaries can vary depending on several factors, including the employer’s type and size, the paralegal’s experience level, and by geographic area. In general, entry-level corporate paralegals may earn a salary in the $30,000 to $42,000 range, while those with several years of experience could make more than $90,000.
Many corporate paralegals also receive bonuses. According to the NALA survey, the average paralegal receives around $3,000 in bonuses each year. Many of the corporations and other large businesses that hire corporate paralegals offer numerous other benefits such as health, dental and life insurance, and retirement accounts, and as well as additional perks like tuition reimbursement, discounted health club memberships, and paid continuing education classes and professional association memberships.
Required Skills for a Corporate Paralegal
It’s extremely important that corporate paralegals have strong research and writing skills. This includes not only legal, but also factual research and writing. In addition, corporate paralegals have to work well independently as well as in teams. They need to be able to handle a large volume of very detail-oriented tasks, including paperwork.
Corporate Paralegal Training
Many corporate paralegal employers prefer to hire paralegals that have a formal education, whether it’s an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree, or a paralegal certificate. There may be fewer entry-level corporate paralegal positions versus those in other areas of law. Some paralegal programs offer classes on business or corporate law, which anyone who’s hoping to be a corporate paralegal should certainly take.
General business experience can also be beneficial for those hoping to obtain a corporate paralegal position. Some corporate paralegals have previous work experience in other areas (such as human resources or management) prior to becoming a paralegal. Those who are searching for corporate paralegal jobs could consider obtaining a non-legal position within a corporation, in hopes of transitioning to a paralegal position at a later time after gaining general business experience.