legal practice areas

Commercial Law

Commercial Law is a broad term for a range of legal services designed to support businesses in making money from their products and services.

For example, Intellectual Property (IP) rights are crucial for creative industries and manufacturers to profit from innovation, sales on a domestic and international basis need contracts, and agency or distribution agreements can be made to sell the good or services more widely.

What does a commercial lawyer do?

Commercial lawyers will tend to have a specialist practice area (e.g. Intellectual Property) or industry focus (e.g. Technology, Media & Telecoms). The exception to this is in smaller firms, where the term simply refers to those whose clients are businesses rather than individuals.

Workload is dependent on which area the lawyer works in, but much of the transactional work focuses on protecting each client’s business interests by managing a wide range of risks. For example, this could mean interpreting the law to decide how to protect a client against liability for claims made on their website.

Day-to-day work involves drawing up a wide range of commercial agreements and standard forms of words, such as disclaimers.

What skills are required?

Commercial lawyers need strong research skills and a sense of curiosity. They need to keep up-to-date with and develop a detailed and rounded knowledge of their clients’ industry, and the factors which have a bearing on how they do business.

Attention to detail is of paramount importance as the smallest error in an agreement could be a major problem for a client’s business. Working well in a team is a key skill as larger scale commercial work involves working with other solicitors and support staff in a firm.

Useful links

The following student guides to a career in law have introductory descriptions of working in commercial law: Target Law, Chambers Student Guide and Lawcareers.net.

Industry publications can help you keep up-to-date with particular sectors and broad developments in business. Here are some examples:

The Financial Times (non-subscribers can view several articles a month for free)
The Lawyer for corporate and commercial news.
BBC Business News