Careers in Business Law

Career Path Introduction

Business law refers to a broad spectrum of laws and practices that govern the establishment of new businesses, the raising of capital, the lending of money, the financing of projects, and a wide variety of other transactions.

Depending on their focus, business lawyers might provide advice to startups; negotiate and create a broad spectrum of contracts; help their clients form joint ventures; or engage in asset securitizations, project finance deals, the leasing of operating space, obtaining licenses, transferring property, or negotiating contracts involving intellectual property rights or noncompetition agreements.

Business lawyers may also counsel clients on complying with federal legislation, such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, False Claims Act, or Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. They might represent clients before federal and state agencies such as the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, or the Financial Industry National Regulatory Authority.


Business lawyers can be found in law firms, companies, and state and federal agencies. They may work for accounting firms, for investment banking firms, or for in-house legal departments of large corporations. They may work for federal regulatory enforcement agencies such as the SEC or IRS.

Clients may range from Fortune 500 companies to small businesses, start-ups and financial institutions such as brokerage houses, banks, investment banking firms, private equity or venture capital firms and hedge funds.

On a typical day, business lawyers might help structure a transaction; negotiate, draft and review contracts; prepare filings to be submitted to regulators; and provide advice to corporate boards of directors. They might advise clients on mergers, buyouts, stock purchases, and the divestitures of assets.

Business lawyers benefit from strong writing, analytical, quantitative, and negotiating skills; from the ability to thrive in fast-paced environments; and from familiarity with business-related areas of law, including securities law, tax law, real estate law, and intellectual property law.

During law school prospective business lawyers can gain valuable experience as summer associates at law firms, as interns in corporate legal departments, and as externs with governmental agencies, such as the SEC, IRS, and FINRA, the Financial Industry National Regulatory Authority.

Related Chicago-Kent offerings:

Chicago-Kent offers a J.D. Certificate in Business Law and provides a wide range of classes related to business law. These include substantive doctrinal classes, legal writing classes in which the student drafts a variety of documents, and experiential simulation courses. The law school also provides students with the opportunity to participate in the Entrepreneurial Law Clinic and Tax Clinic.

Check out Chicago-Kent's online Certificate in Financial Markets Compliance.

Check out Illinois Tech’s related multidisciplinary degrees: Master of Intellectual Property Management and Markets and Master of Technological Entrepreneurship.

Academic Centers and Institutes

The Institute for Compliance promotes careers in financial compliance, prepares students for such careers, advances knowledge about the importance of compliance, and offers events for Chicago's compliance and legal community.

Student Organizations

The Corporate Law Society is committed to promoting the study of corporate law and to preparing its members for successful careers in practice areas such as business planning, financial services, securities regulation, real estate, and tax law.