A career in law constitutes several specializations, and becoming a reputed lawyer demands high-level expertise in various fields. Lawyers work as consultants to their clients, guiding them about their freedom and legal processes and encouraging them to handle the complex legal system. Corporate lawyers are typically known as the business industry’s in-house lawyers who assist the entrepreneurs in taking care of the legal norms and formalities. However, a trial lawyer is generally responsible for the representation and defense of their clients before the law.  

Early specialization assists both trial and corporate attorneys in competing in a tight labor market while fulfilling the requirements of their respective jobs. 

Basic requirements for becoming a lawyer

While different states set their requirements for licensing a lawyer, a prospective lawyer should have a four-year college degree, a three-year law degree, and success on the bar exams. Your choice of law school lays a significant impact when selecting your specialty due to the different internships various institutions offer. The initial half of the law school covers the general topics. However, the later 18 months of the law school offer specialized courses. Additionally, post the completion of law school, some states also require the Multistate Bar Examination or other additional exams as a part of their licensing requirements. 

While both the designations are inter-related, here are some typical areas where a corporate lawyer differs from a trial lawyer.

Preparing to specialize

After the first and half years of completion of law school, both the prospective corporate and trial lawyers are allowed to select the electives suitable to their specialties. For instance, those preparing for a corporate degree can choose accounting or tax law courses. They also should consider frequent participation in internships and clinical work suitable to their desired degrees to further receive placement by well-known law schools in part-time jobs or internships in corporate legal departments. These placements generally lead the prospective corporate attorneys to permanent positions after graduation. 

On the contrary, the prospective trial lawyers obtain practical experience in moot court competitions and practice trials in their law school. 


Corporate lawyers require keen intelligence, public speaking, writing skills, and the ability to work for extended hours. Their ultimate focus is to work and negotiate towards an agreement rather than compete like adversaries. 

Trial lawyers should have robust public speaking and analytical skills and astute knowledge of courtroom procedures. They are generally employed by law firms, large companies, or the government to work on criminal and civil cases.

Work horizon

Corporate lawyers mainly perform research, meet with the parties involved, and examine precedents. Depending on their specializations, interests, and experience, some work in law firms for large businesses, while others work for small and medium-sized companies or independent contractors. 

Whereas trial lawyers spend more time outside court as the trials demand lengthy preparations. They require interviewing their clients and witnesses, conducting research, prepare a complete presentation and strategies before a trial. However, their work in the courtroom includes meeting with judges, selecting jurors, and arguing the case.

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