Corporate law at the federal and state levels is often infamous for creating unnecessary hassle for corporations, but corporate laws and regulations are designed to create a fair and responsible marketplace.
From the moment they are created to when they are dissolved, corporations are expected to operate in a manner that is efficient, transparent, and fair. For example, corporate laws and regulations might help new businesses enter the marketplace and allow their products to compete on equal footing with those from established companies.
Fridman Law Firm has deep experience in the world of corporate law and has helped clients across a number of industries with issues like mergers and acquisitions, joint venture agreements, and contract creation and review. We handle the legal intricacies so you can do what you do best — get down to business.
What Is Corporate Law?
The term “corporate law” generally refers to a set of laws, regulations, and legal precedents that govern the creation and activities of corporations.
In some ways, it can help to think of a corporation as a person: A corporation can take legal action against another party or be subject to it. Owners might oversee company actions, and employees might provide products and services, but these individuals and their actions are often considered separate from corporate activities. Simply put, if people are just doing their job in a legal manner, they cannot be held responsible for their corporation’s bad actions.
The biggest area of corporate law involves navigating the massive number of rules and regulations companies must follow to do business. These might be international, federal, state, or local laws and regulations. They are designed to promote commerce and the general public’s overall welfare. For example, mandatory annual shareholder meetings with the board of directors are meant to support transparency and accountability. In exchange for following these laws, corporations receive benefits in the form of tax exemptions and funding options.
In addition to dealing with regulations, corporations must also handle legal issues such as employment issues, taxes, litigation, intellectual property management, and bankruptcy. The size of a corporate law team tends to correlate to the corporation’s size. But given the complexity of modern regulations and competitive pressures to succeed, even the smallest startup may find it challenging with a limited legal team.
Types of Corporate Law
Corporate lawyers can specialize in many different areas. Below are a few of the more common types of corporate law Fridman Law Firm can help with.
When a corporation employs people, it is expected to treat them responsibly. Employment law covers work-related issues, such as labor disputes, discrimination, harassment, liability, and safety. While employment laws and regulations are designed to avoid confusion between employees and management, disputes inevitably occur, and corporate lawyers are frequently needed to resolve them.
Corporations, like individuals, are subject to taxation and the intricacies of the Internal Revenue Code. Corporate tax law is very different from individual tax law, and effective corporate lawyers are able to minimize taxes paid by their client corporations.
The formation of a corporation is a highly complex undertaking. It often requires structuring and raising capital. This essential part of building a business is challenging and complex. Attorneys with experience in raising capital for startups are able to address legal matters related to negotiating financing terms. They are also well-positioned to advise on funding sources like venture capital funds, government grants, and crowdfunding.
Attorneys experienced with startup law often help founders establish the right business entity for their concept. Business formation and entity choice is one of the critical first steps for any company, and legal counsel can help founders decide if they should form a limited liability company, partnership, or corporation.
With so many new companies being founded in the tech industry, startup law is also increasingly becoming focused on intellectual property law. Corporate lawyers specializing in tech startups will understand the particularly volatile nature of this industry.
Intellectual Property Law
Intellectual property is a type of property that cannot be physically touched, tasted, or smelled. However, intellectual property can be highly valuable, and many new businesses and their products are based on unique processes or computer code. Corporate lawyers can help companies with patents, trademarks, and copyrights. They can also help companies safeguard trade secrets that are vital to their success and that are also important to potential investors or acquirers.
Mergers and Acquisitions
Mergers and acquisitions are one area of corporate law that tends to generate a lot of headlines. But every headline represents a lot of behind-the-scenes work from corporate lawyers. Attorneys in this area of corporate law help their company or client achieve its transactional objectives by using in-depth knowledge of strategic partnerships, joint ventures, leveraged buyouts, asset transfers, and stock purchases. Corporate lawyers working on a merger acquisition might handle anything from structuring the transaction to post-closing integration.
Commercial Real Estate Law
When it comes to commercial real estate transactions, time is of the essence. Corporate lawyers with experience in commercial real estate understand legal matters related to lease negotiation, deed transfers, term sheets, real estate financing, and more. Businesses with effective representation are able to quickly navigate these matters and quickly close deals to take advantage of opportunities when they appear.
Given the challenges of securing venture capital funding and even institutions like Silicon Valley Bank, startup founders have increasingly been turning to equity crowdfunding campaigns. These campaigns have many online investors each receiving a small equity stake in a startup in exchange for their financial backing. In this growing area of corporate law, attorneys typically advise on legal matters related to crowdfunding regulations and document preparation.
Duties of a Corporate Law Attorney
In the past, corporate lawyers mostly provided legal and ethical advice related to corporate governance and policy. They primarily reacted to proposals by corporate leaders and attempted to help their corporation avoid missteps. Previous generations of corporate lawyers also helped companies navigate new laws and regulatory requirements.
Today, corporate lawyers are expected to handle those same responsibilities but take a more proactive footing and broader approach to their role within the corporate structure. This shift has been caused by a number of factors, including the rise of corporate data, greater government oversight, data privacy issues, and higher expectations of corporate responsibility from the general public.
Modern corporate attorneys often wear a number of different hats, and any given day might find them reviewing new regulatory requirements, facilitating compliance with data privacy laws, and resolving disputes. Here are a few of their responsibilities:
- Reviewing new laws and regulations. Depending on the industries in which they operate, corporations typically fall under the jurisdiction(s) of one or more regulatory bodies. Corporate lawyers help a corporation comply with any new regulations handed down by federal and state regulators. Attorneys can save their company millions of dollars or more by helping to avoid fines and even accusations of wrongdoing that can still significantly damage a corporate brand.
- Facilitating data privacy and security. Technology has allowed corporations to capture and store inconceivable amounts of data. While this data is typically a valuable asset, it can also be a liability when it comes to maintaining the privacy of individual people. This requires A 2-pronged approach involving data security and data governance practices. While cybersecurity professionals can help with the former, corporate lawyers can support data governance by advising on regulatory requirements, best practices, and legal risk.
- Litigation and dispute resolution. Legal disputes can be time-consuming and costly. Even when a corporation comes out unscathed from a major dispute, it can still have a negative impact on the bottom line. Corporate lawyers take a proactive approach to avoiding disputes and resolving them when necessary.
Given their expanded role, corporate lawyers are more indispensable than ever. In fact, a survey from Thomson Reuters found that 65% of legal departments said they had higher workloads than the previous year, while almost 60% said the budget for their team had remained the same.
Let Our Team of Corporate Lawyers Help
At Fridman Law Firm, we understand the myriad challenges that in-house legal teams face. Our firm has deep roots in Wall Street, and we use that experience when working with corporations of all sizes.
We offer a wide range of legal services, from offering legal assistance to startups to providing general counsel to advising on intellectual property matters. Get in touch with us online or call our office in New York City at 212-262-9823 to arrange a consultation.