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Working As A Legal Counsel

  • Getting Information
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Resolving Conflicts and Negotiating with Others
  • Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards
  • Communicating with Persons Outside Organization
  • Mostly Sitting

  • Make Decisions

  • Stressful

  • $109,738

    Average Salary

What Does A Legal Counsel Do

A Legal Counsel supervises the legal aspects of a business. They give accurate and timely counsel to executives on a variety of legal topics, such as labor law, partnerships, or international ventures.

How To Become A Legal Counsel

All lawyers must have a law degree and must also typically pass a state’s written bar examination.


Becoming a lawyer usually takes 7 years of full-time study after high school—4 years of undergraduate study, followed by 3 years of law school. Most states and jurisdictions require lawyers to complete a juris doctor (J.D.) degree from a law school accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA). ABA accreditation signifies that the law school—particularly its curricula and faculty—meets certain standards.

A bachelor’s degree is required for entry into most law schools, and courses in English, public speaking, government, history, economics, and mathematics are useful.

Almost all law schools, particularly those approved by the ABA, require applicants to take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). This test measures applicants’ aptitude for the study of law.

A J.D. degree program includes courses such as constitutional law, contracts, property law, civil procedure, and legal writing. Law students may choose specialized courses in areas such as tax, labor, and corporate law.


Prospective lawyers take licensing exams called "bar exams." When a lawyer receives their license to practice law, they are "admitted to the bar."

To practice law in any state, a person must be admitted to the state’s bar under rules established by the jurisdiction’s highest court. The requirements vary by individual states and jurisdictions. For more details on individual state and jurisdiction requirements, visit the National Conference of Bar Examiners.

Most states require that applicants graduate from an ABA-accredited law school, pass one or more written bar exams, and be found by an admitting board to have the character to represent and advise others. Prior felony convictions, academic misconduct, or a history of substance abuse are just some factors that may disqualify an applicant from being admitted to the bar.

Lawyers who want to practice in more than one state often must take the bar exam in each state.

After graduation, lawyers must keep informed about legal developments that affect their practices. Almost all states require lawyers to participate in continuing legal education either every year or every 3 years. 

Many law schools and state and local bar associations provide continuing legal education courses that help lawyers stay current with recent developments. Courses vary by state and generally cover a subject within the practice of law, such as legal ethics, taxes and tax fraud, and healthcare. Some states allow lawyers to take their continuing education credits through online courses. 


Newly hired attorneys usually start as associates and work with more experienced lawyers. After several years, some lawyers may be admitted to partnership of their firm, which means they become partial owners of the firm.

After gaining a few years of work experience, some lawyers go into practice for themselves or move to the legal department of a large corporation. Very few in-house attorneys are hired directly out of law school.

A small number of experienced lawyers are nominated or elected to judgeships. Other lawyers may become full-time law school faculty and administrators. For more information about judges and law school faculty, see the profile on judges and hearing officers and the profile on postsecondary teachers.

Other Experience

Law students often gain practical experience by participating in school-sponsored legal clinics, in a school’s moot court competitions, in practice trials under the supervision of experienced lawyers and judges, and through research and writing on legal issues for a school’s law journals.

Part-time jobs or summer internships in law firms, government agencies, and corporate legal departments also provide valuable experience. Some smaller firms, government agencies, and public interest organizations may hire students as summer associate interns after they have completed their first year at law school. Many larger firms’ summer internship programs are only eligible to law students who have completed their second year. These experiences can help law students decide what kind of legal work they want to focus on in their careers, and these internships may lead directly to a job after graduation.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Lawyers help their clients resolve problems and issues. As a result, they must be able to analyze large amounts of information, determine relevant facts, and propose viable solutions.

Interpersonal skills. Lawyers must win the respect and confidence of their clients by building a trusting relationship, so that clients feel comfortable enough to share personal information related to their case.

Problem-solving skills. Lawyers must separate their emotions and prejudice from their clients’ problems and objectively evaluate the matter. Therefore, good problem-solving skills are important for lawyers, to prepare the best defense and recommendation.

Research skills. Preparing legal advice or representation for a client commonly requires substantial research. All lawyers need to be able to find what applicable laws and regulations apply to a specific matter.

Speaking skills. Clients hire lawyers to speak on their behalf. Lawyers must be able to clearly present and explain their case to arbitrators, mediators, opposing parties, judges, or juries. 

Writing skills. Lawyers need to be precise and specific when preparing documents, such as wills, trusts, and powers of attorney.

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Legal Counsel Demographics


  • Male

  • Female

  • Unknown



  • White

  • Hispanic or Latino

  • Asian

  • Unknown

  • Black or African American

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Languages Spoken

  • Spanish

  • French

  • Portuguese

  • Russian

  • Chinese

  • Italian

  • Mandarin

  • German

  • Arabic

  • Korean

  • Japanese

  • Carrier

  • Hebrew

  • Swahili

  • Hindi

  • Urdu

  • Polish

  • Swedish

  • Vietnamese

  • Romanian

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Real Legal Counsel Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
International Legal Counsel Dechert LLP Washington, DC Jul 30, 2015 $250,000 -
Special Legal Counsel (Corporate) Squire Patton Boggs (Us) LLP Palo Alto, CA Jul 31, 2015 $248,353
Special Legal Counsel (Corporate) Squire Patton Boggs (Us) LLP Palo Alto, CA Jul 15, 2016 $248,353
In House Attorney/Regional Legal Counsel Trafigura AG Houston, TX Sep 09, 2016 $207,000
In-House Attorney/Regional Legal Counsel for The Americas Trafigura Trading LLC Houston, TX Sep 09, 2016 $207,000 -
Legal Counsel Apple Inc. Cupertino, CA Sep 26, 2016 $205,000 -
Legal Counsel Asp Services LLC Santa Monica, CA Mar 01, 2015 $198,000
Legal Counsel Bloomberg, LP New York, NY Sep 01, 2015 $197,000
Legal Counsel 3 EBAY Inc. San Jose, CA Oct 09, 2016 $187,400
Legal Counsel OLAM Americas, Inc. Fresno, CA Jul 06, 2015 $185,000
Legal Counsel Plaid Technologies, Inc. San Francisco, CA Aug 15, 2016 $180,000
Legal Counsel Comar Law San Francisco, CA Sep 07, 2015 $177,395 -
Senior Legal Counsel (Foreign Legal Consultant) Nokia Solutions and Networks Us LLC Irving, TX Sep 22, 2015 $175,560
Legal Counsel III Amazon Corporate LLC Seattle, WA Sep 05, 2016 $152,000
Legal Counsel III Amazon Corporate LLC Seattle, WA May 23, 2016 $152,000
Legal Counsel III Amazon Corporate LLC Seattle, WA Jul 03, 2016 $152,000
Legal Counsel III Amazon Corporate LLC Seattle, WA Jun 13, 2016 $152,000
Legal Counsel III Amazon Corporate LLC Seattle, WA Jul 25, 2016 $152,000
Legal Counsel III Amazon Corporate LLC Seattle, WA Feb 05, 2016 $152,000
Legal Counsel Nextdecade, LLC The Woodlands, TX Oct 03, 2016 $125,000 -
Regional Legal Counsel Brickell Financial Services Motor Club Inc. Miami, FL Jan 15, 2015 $125,000
Legal Counsel Nextdecade, LLC The Woodlands, TX Mar 10, 2016 $125,000 -
In-House Legal Counsel TLBU Foundation, Inc. Pleasantville, NJ Jul 25, 2016 $124,238
Legal Counsel Valeo North America, Inc. Troy, MI Aug 24, 2016 $123,600
Legal Counsel Shipcom Wireless Inc. Houston, TX Jun 09, 2016 $120,000
Internal Legal Counsel JPI Construction Inc. San Diego, CA Jan 06, 2016 $120,000
Legal Counsel Zenbanx Holding Ltd Redwood City, CA Nov 30, 2016 $115,000

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Top Skills for A Legal Counsel


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Top Legal Counsel Skills

  1. Regulatory Compliance
  2. Intellectual Property
  3. Company Policies
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Provided guidance to airport management regarding federal and state law and regulatory compliance for airport operations.
  • Drafted site intellectual property guideline, and restructured portfolio, substantially decreasing maintenance cost.
  • Provide training to corporate and manufacturing facility personnel on key legal issues and company policies.
  • Handled real estate transactions including purchase and condemnation of real estate and relocation expenses.
  • Assure compliance with financial disclosure and reporting requirements and contractual and commercial proprietary information.

Top Legal Counsel Employers

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Legal Counsel Videos

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Loudr's In-House Legal Counsel | Inside Jobs

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