Contract AttorneyJob Description, Salary, Career Path, and Trends

 

Contract attorneys specialize in helping clients negotiate, draft, review, and manage contracts. They specialize in resolving disputes or arranging agreements between parties, whether those parties are individuals or businesses. A contract attorney may be called upon to write briefs and legal opinions, consult with clients and conduct interviews with persons and entities involved in legal cases. Another responsibility of a contract attorney may be to resolve disputes relating to contracts.

A contract attorney needs to be able to interpret complex technical language and communicate the terms of the contracts they draft. Contract attorneys are typically involved in civil law matters, which requires them to research business statutes and regulations.

Sample job description

A contract attorney assists their clients in drafting and reviewing contracts. They also specialize in bringing about a resolution between parties in a dispute, whether they be businesses or simply individuals. They need to be competent analytical thinkers, able to read and interpret complex language, and then communicate the terms involved to clients. Written and verbal communication skills, as well as knowledge of federal and state contract laws and regulations, is essential. 

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Discuss the proposed terms of a contract with clients
  • Draft contracts
  • Review proposed contracts
  • Interpret terms of a contract
  • Negotiate contracts
  • Resolve disputes involving contracts

Education and experience

This position requires a Juris Doctorate as well as a license to practice law in the state where the candidate will work. A background in business or contract law is preferred.

Required skills and qualifications

  • Knowledge of federal and state contract laws and regulations
  • Research skills
  • Analytical thinking
  • Negotiation skills

Preferred qualifications

  • 2 years reviewing, redlining, and managing commercial contracts 
  • Must be able to draft contract redlines based on individual client playbooks and risk tolerance
  • Comprehension of clauses common to SaaS Agreements

Average salary and compensation

The average salary for a contract attorney is $100,000 in the United States. Position salary will vary based on experience, education, company size, industry, and market.

LocationSalary LowSalary High
Phoenix, Arizona$99,450$134,550
Los Angeles, California$112,200$151,800
Denver, Colorado$93,500$126,500
Washington, DC$113,900$154,100
Miami, Florida$93,100$125,950
Orlando, Florida$85,850$116,150
Tampa, Florida$86,700$117,300
Atlanta, Georgia$90,950$123,050
Chicago, Illinois$104,550$141,450
Boston, Massachusetts$113,050$152,950
Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota$90,100$121,900
New York City, New York$119,000$161,000
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania$96,900$131,100
Dallas, Texas$94,350$127,650
Houston, Texas$93,500$126,500
Seattle, Washington$108,800$147,200
National Average$85,000$115,000

Typical work environment

Most contract attorneys work in offices, and some may meet with clients throughout the day. Some contract attorneys specialize in aspects of the law such as sales agreement contract review or intellectual property contracts. 

Typical hours

The typical work hours in an office setting for a contract attorney are usually from 9 AM to 5 PM. However, many attorneys work more than 40 hours a week, especially when preparing for trials or nearing deadlines.

Available certifications

Though receiving a certification isn’t necessary beyond your J.D. from an accredited university, it doesn’t hurt to keep continuing your education. Check out these available certifications: 

  • The Contract Law Specialist Certificate Program. This is a self-paced online course offered by the University of Texas at Austin. The two required courses are contract law and business organizations. After having begun the program, students may work with the instructor to pick an elective in one of the following areas: E-Discovery, Legal Ethics, Laws of Evidence, Advanced Legal Research, and Constitutional Law. 
  • Business Contracts Certificate. From Cornell Law School is a two-week long course that goes over the creation of effective contracts, interpretation of contracts, managing risk in contracts, and enforcing contract terms. You will learn to investigate strategies to mitigate risk while learning how to minimize damages that occur in the event that a contract is breached.

Career path

Contract attorneys are required to have a Juris Doctorate from an accredited law school and a license to practice law in the state where they work. A bachelor’s degree is necessary to pursue a J.D. degree. College coursework in subjects like business administration, corporate law, negotiations, and similar subjects is also recommended.

Most attorneys start in law firms as associates, then progress along either a partner or non-partner track, leading to positions as partners, senior attorneys, or of counsel.

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 23-1011

2020 Employment804,200
Projected Employment in 2030875,700
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 9% increase
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift71,500 increase

There are some significant trends that industry observers say contract attorneys should be aware of in the coming years. According to the digital document signing company DocuSign, data security is a significant issue in managing contracts. The trend toward moving in-house data storage to more secure, cloud-based storage options is expected to continue, as is building provisions for data security and privacy into contracts between businesses and both consumers and other businesses.

The use of artificial intelligence (AI) is also becoming increasingly common in the legal field. Legal teams are using AI to automate things like document creation and internal workflows, as well as using AI to make clauses and concepts in contracts into searchable and filterable data.

Sample interview questions

  • What motivates you at work?
  • Can you tell me about a situation when you failed a client?
  • Would you be amenable to always doing contract work?
  • What is the minimum hourly rate you would accept?
  • Have you ever worked as a contract attorney before?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to make an unpopular decision. 
  • What are your strengths as a contract lawyer? 
  • What are five characteristics that describe you well? 
  • When are you most satisfied with your work?
  • What goals do you have for five years from now?
  • What is your philosophy towards working? How do you create a balance between home life and work life?
  • What interests you most about being a contract lawyer?

Contract Attorney Jobs in Ashburn

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