What Is a Chief Legal Officer?

Should you’re thinking about how companies operate primarily based on the law, corporate law may be an excellent career path for you. In this function, you need legal experience to assist companies comply with laws and rules and minimize litigation risks while conducting business. With expertise, you may work your way as much as the senior-level position of a chief legal officer (CLO). In this article, we explain the position of a chief authorized officer, how one can change into one and answer some frequently asked questions about this profession.

Key takeaways

A CLO is a authorized executive who helps an organization observe legal and regulatory issues.

A CLO is an adviser to different firm officers and board members to minimize legal risks.

A CLO is usually the most powerful authorized executive in a publicly traded company.

 

What’s a chief authorized officer?

A chief legal officer is a lawyer with a Juris Doctor (JD) degree, state license and intensive corporate experience. Because the head of a corporate legal department, a CLO is liable for overseeing a company’s legal affairs. They have intensive legal backgrounds with earlier positions as head legal, first common counsel and law firm partner earlier than changing into a CLO.

What does a chief legal officer do?

Chief legal officers typically work as probably the most senior authorized executive for publicly traded companies. These firms need to ensure they are protecting their staff, assets and stakeholders in accordance with the law.

A CLO’s duties could embody:

Keeping leadership informed of new or changing laws

Consulting a company’s board on authorized advice and laws

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

Educating staff on authorized issues

Setting up training supplies relating to legal matters for employees

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

Developing and implementing legal strategies and insurance policies in the perfect curiosity of the corporate

Leading internal audits and corporate compliance initiatives

Litigating on behalf of a company

Understanding contracts signed by the company

The way to grow to be a chief legal officer

Comply with these steps to develop into a professional chief authorized officer:

1. Earn a bachelor’s degree

Most aspiring lawyers start by incomes a bachelor’s degree in business, philosophy or history. Different popular majors for pre-law students include history, enterprise, philosophy, English, political science and liberal arts. Since there are not any specific «pre-law» degrees, you need to seek out coursework equivalent to worldwide law, cyber law, public speaking, argumentation concept, communications and any others related to the examine of law.

Law school admission is highly competitive so that you need to preserve a high grade level common (GPA) during your undergraduate years. Law school admissions teams might want candidates with relevant work expertise so seek out an law firm internship earlier than you graduate.

2. Apply to law school

During the last years of your undergraduate program, you will need to take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). Your rating is a key component while you apply for law school. It’s possible you’ll take the LSAT a number of occasions to get a higher score.

Law schools might also require a personal statement in your application. This is a brief essay where you clarify why you wish to attend law school and why you’re a certified candidate.

You may also be required to include a letter of recommendation. Ask a highly respected community member, resembling a professor or earlier employer, to write your letter of recommendation. The admissions team may wish to meet with you in individual to further discuss your background and application.

3. Attend law school

It typically takes three years to earn a JD degree. The first half of the program focuses on legal writing, civil procedures, constitutional law and property law. In the second half, you will choose a specialization. As an aspiring chief legal officer, you need to concentrate on corporate law. Alongside with courses in general law topics, you could study mental property law, corporate finance, business law, real estate law, employment law and different topics related to working towards law in a business setting.

4. Pass the bar examination

Law school graduates need a state license and admission to the American Bar Affiliation to apply law. You will need to take a licensing or «bar» examination on federal, criminal, constitutional and multistate law, a written essay section and an ethics test. Requirements range by state and jurisdiction however 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. Achieve work experience

Many chief authorized officers start as practising attorneys and work their way up by way of inner promotions or applying to higher level positions within their industry. They might have a background as a law firm partner, head of authorized or first normal counselor.

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