What does the Legal Department of a Business do?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

The legal department of a business handles legal issues that may come up in the course of business, ranging from drafting waiver forms for employees to handling lawsuits from angry customers. Many large companies have this type of department; smaller companies may choose to keep a lawyer or a staff of lawyers on retainer, ensuring that they have quick access to legal knowledge when they need it. Customers can often find themselves interacting with the department, especially when they file complaints or indicate that they believe a business is not operating within the law.

The legal department may represent a business in the event a lawsuit is filed.
The legal department may represent a business in the event a lawsuit is filed.

Members of the legal department are typically trained and qualified lawyers, along with a support staff of legal assistants and other law professionals. Ideally, the department focuses only on tasks that require a trained lawyer; in other words, employees may look over a letter from an executive to ensure that it will not cause problems in the future, but they will not draft letters for members of the company, unless the letters pertain to legal matters.

Members of the legal department of a business are typically trained and qualified lawyers.
Members of the legal department of a business are typically trained and qualified lawyers.

One of the most important roles for employees in this department is as legal advisers. Before marketing a new product, staff members will often discuss it with the lawyers. Executives may talk with the staff about potential legal issues ranging from being accused of discrimination in hiring practices to sexual harassment. The department may also offer training and assistance with employee manuals to ensure that the company and its employees are kept up to date on workplace law, reducing the risk of potential suits.

The legal department will also become involved in customer complaints, ensuring that the responses to these complaints are drafted in a professional style that also covers the company's bases legally. In the event that a company is sued, either from within or from the outside, the department will represent the company in the suit. It also handles the filing of patents and other legal documents with official agencies.

In a large, multi-national company, the legal department can be massive, approaching the size of a large law firm. The lawyers may come from different nations and have different training backgrounds, ensuring that every aspect of the company's business is covered, from a manufacturing plant in England to a bank in India. The staff members may also work together on deals, using their years of experience to vet proposals and documents, ensuring that the company is getting the best legal representation and advice possible.

The legal department will advise on matters of sexual harassment.
The legal department will advise on matters of sexual harassment.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

You might also Like

Readers Also Love

Discussion Comments


If I was in a signed contract with the County of San Bernardino, and I did what I had to do (community service). Is the county allowed to just pull the contract?


SauteePan-Corporate legal department really work on all types of contracts. For example, the legal department usually creates sales and employment contracts.

They also develop most employee policies found in the employee handbook. Legal department jobs like this fall under the corporate law umbrella.

This is among the highest paid area in the legal field, but some prefer legal jobs that involve litigation.

Many say that working in a corporation legal department does not allow them to try cases in court and instead the focus is on contracts, which some might find boring.


Anon76155- I am so sorry that happened to you. You should contact an employment attorney that can help you with your case. In house legal departments function to protect the company for any potential lawsuits or situations that might lead the company vulnerable to litigation.

A corporate legal department also gets involved when any lawsuits are filed against the company, they also may assist in drafting contracts for the company and follow up letters for clients that are negligent in paying the company.

The legal department management also works hand in hand with the human resources department and often reviews cases in which an employee is about to be terminated in order to ensure that all was done to make sure that the company will not be open to a wrongful termination suit.


When I was 62 years I joined a Travel Agency (IATA) as manager and when I was 70 years the employer called the police station and sent me out, stating that because of old age and administrative purposes he is sending me out. I filed a case in the Labour Court and it got dismissed since a manager cannot come to Labour Court. What remedy do I have now?

Post your comments
Forgot password?