Legal Counsel (Legal Definition: What Is Legal Counsel)

What is Legal Counsel?

What is the legal counsel meaning?

What are the essential elements you should know!

Keep reading as we have gathered exactly the information that you need!

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What Is Legal Counsel 

The term “legal counsel” refers to a professional specialized in the area of law.

A legal counsel is a person who has studied law or practices law in a particular field.

Many use the reference legal counsel to refer to an attorney who is an individual mandated to represent another before the courts or who provides legal advice.

In essence, legal counsel refers to a person who has studied law and is trained in the field of law or provides legal advice and representation services to others.

To say that you are “seeking legal counsel” means that you are looking for legal advice or representation.

Legal Counsel Definition

How do you define legal counsel?

What is the definition of legal counsel?

Legal counsel is a broad term referring to someone who is trained and qualified in law.

For a person to be able to give legal advice and represent another, the legal counsel must also be legally qualified to do so.

A person who obtains the license to practice law is generally referred to as a “lawyer” or “attorney”.

“Legal counsel” is not precise enough to know whether the person is merely trained in law or has the legal capacity to represent another person.

In common English, the term legal counsel is used interchangeably with the terms attorney or lawyer to refer to a person not only trained in law but legally authorized to practice law.

Role of a Legal Counsel

If we refer to the term “legal counsel” in a broad way to mean a person who is trained in law and able to represent another, the role of this individual is similar to that of an attorney.

A legal counsel will provide legal advice and representation to individuals, companies, business entities, or others when confronted with a legal issue or lawsuit.

For example, a legal counsel specialized in contracts and contract law will provide legal advice to companies and individuals with regards to commercial contracts or other types of contracts.

A legal counsel specialized in corporations and corporate law will provide legal advice to companies in the context of mergers and acquisitions, due diligence processes, and other related mandates.

The role of legal counsels can be summarized as follows:

  • Interpreting laws and statutes
  • Interpreting case laws
  • Drafting legal briefs
  • Negotiating settlements 
  • Filing lawsuits
  • Pleading a case before a judge or jury
  • Drafting legal documents
  • Providing legal counseling and advice 

Becoming a Legal Counsel

To become a legal counsel, you must meet the legal requirements in the jurisdiction you intend to practice law.

Typically, a person will need to study law at the university level and obtain a bachelor’s in law.

Many high-ranking universities require that law school student candidates pass a Law School Admission Test (LSAT) as a prerequisite to be admitted into the law faculty.

Once you finish your law studies, you’ll need to obtain your license to practice law.

That’s done by passing the Bar Exam or local requirements to practice law.

Legal Counsel Rights

In the United States, the right to have legal counsel is protected under the U.S. Constitution.

The 6th Amendment guarantees that a criminal defendant has the right to an attorney in a criminal case.

The defendant should be able to exercise this right whether he or she has the means to pay for an attorney or not.

When the defendant cannot afford an attorney, the court will appoint a public defender to take up the legal defense of the accused.

Public defenders are legal counsel paid and mandated by the state to defend the legal rights of a criminal defendant who does not have the means to hire a private attorney.

Counsel vs Attorney

What is the difference between counsel vs attorney?

According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, counsel is defined as:

A lawyer engaged in the trial or management of a case in court
Author

It can also mean:

Advice given especially as a result of consultation
Author

The word counsel can either mean the process of getting advice or a lawyer giving advice.

Both ways, in common English, counsel can refer to an attorney.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines an attorney as follows:

One who is legally appointed to transact business on another’s behalf 
Author

The word attorney is more specific than counsel.

Attorney means a person designated to act on another’s behalf.

In essence, an attorney is a legal professional providing legal representation services in court or other types of legal counseling.

Company Legal Counsel

A legal counselor (company counsel or in-house counsel) is a person who provides legal advice to companies and is an employee of the company.

Typically, a lawyer or attorney works for a law firm and represents clients like companies, businesses, corporations, or other business entities.

An in-house legal counsel is a person who has one client, his or her employer.

The legal counsel will provide legal service to the company such as:

  • Review and drafting of contracts
  • Review of regulations, statutes and laws
  • Negotiation of contracts and agreements with clients, suppliers and partners
  • Handling of legal disputes 
  • Mergers and acquisitions 
  • Corporate governance and maintenance 
  • Legal risk management  
  • Legal filing and document management

These are just a few things handled by a company counsel. 

Counsel in court 

What is counsel in court?

A counsel in court refers to legal counsel providing legal representation and advice for court-related matters.

Counsel in court can also be referred to as trial attorney or litigation attorney.

In addition to having an understanding of the law related to his or her client’s legal issue, a counsel in court must also have a good grasp of the court rules of civil procedure along with the rules of evidence.

Handling a legal matter in court requires some of the following skills:

  • Drafting legal briefs and proceeding documents
  • Filing motions 
  • Pleading before a judge or jury
  • Examining and cross-examining witnesses
  • Performing discovery 
  • Investigating facts 
  • Legal research and case law analysis

Litigation attorneys typically work in a law firm either as a sole practitioner, in a boutique law firm or in a major firm.

Takeaways 

What does legal counsel mean?

Who is a legal counsel?

Let’s look at a summary of our findings.

Legal Counsel

  • The term “legal counsel” refers to a professional specialized in the area of law
  • The word counsel can either mean the process of getting advice or a lawyer giving advice
  • A person who obtains the license to practice law is generally referred to as a “lawyer” or “attorney”
  • An in-house legal counsel is a person who has one client, his or her employer
  • In the United States, the right to have legal counsel is protected under the U.S. Constitution
Advocate
Attorney 
Attorney-at-law
Barrister 
Boutique law firm 
Civil lawsuit
Counselor
Counselor-at-law 
Court of law 
General counsel 
Jurisdiction 
Law firm 
Legal brief 
Legal counseling 
Legal duty
Office of legal counsel 
Plea bargain 
Pro Bono lawyer
Solicitor 
Author

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