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legal practice areas

Restructuring and insolvency law

Restructuring and insolvency lawyers act for clients (either individuals or companies) in financial difficulties. Restructuring is usually the first stage in the process of agreeing a way forward with creditors in order to manage repayment of the debt, without the client becoming insolvent.

What do restructuring and insolvency lawyers do?

As a restructuring lawyer, you may be acting for either debtors or creditors. The work you undertake would be non-contentious and involve negotiating agreements and repayment schedules to enable the creditor to pay off the debt without becoming insolvent.

As an insolvency lawyer, you may be acting for either debtors or creditors, but the work will be contentious. Insolvency lawyers are engaged in all stages of the insolvency process, from negotiating company voluntary arrangements, to administration and receivership. They are also engaged in the liquidation stage, where the individual or company’s assets are taken to pay off the outstanding monies owed.

The precise nature of the work will depend to a large extent on the type of firm you work for and the clients you represent. For instance, City firms are more likely to act for banks or investors in cases of big corporate restructurings and insolvency. Smaller firms usually represent smaller companies or individuals in financial difficulty.

What skills are required?

Having an interest in the world of business and finance is a prerequisite for this area of law. In order to advise clients on every aspect of restructuring their business, you will need to have very good levels of commercial awareness and excellent persuasive communication skills in order to deal with people in difficult situations.

Strong communication skills are needed when negotiating with debtors or creditors (depending on which side you are acting for), litigating on your client’s behalf or working alongside other professionals involved in the process, from liquidators to accountants.

This is an academically demanding area of law, covering many different fields such as banking, commercial and litigation. You will need to be able to absorb large volumes of paperwork and make accurate judgement calls quickly.

How to get into restructuring and insolvency law?

To work as a solicitor, you can either take the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE), or if you are eligible, you can study the Legal Practice Course (LPC).

If you qualify through the SQE, you will also need to complete two years of Qualifying Work Experience (QWE). To prepare for the SQE, we recommend studying one of our SQE courses, which have been designed to give you the knowledge and skills for a successful career as a solicitor.

If you’re eligible to study the LPC, you will need to get a two-year training contract with a law firm. To find out what route is right for you, see our Becoming a Solicitor page.

Once you complete your two-year training contract or QWE, you can apply to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) to be admitted as a solicitor.

To become a barrister, you will need to have completed an undergraduate law degree, or if you are a non-law graduate, a conversion course, before completing the Bar Practice Course (BPC). You will then need to secure pupillage.

You can also study a Master of Law (LLM) in Banking and Debt Finance, or an LLM in International Finance Law to give you the knowledge and skills to move into this sector.

Work experience in the area is as important as qualifying as a solicitor, so gaining as much restructuring and insolvency experience as possible will help. You can get into this industry with a non-law undergraduate degree. Many people come from the restructuring and financial sectors to become restructuring and insolvency lawyers. You will also need to follow all the steps to becoming a qualified solicitor.

Gaining restructuring and insolvency law work experience

Our employability team can help you gain experience in law firms specialising in restructuring and insolvency via internships, online working experience, pro bono programmes and training opportunities.

What is the salary of a restructuring and insolvency lawyer?

A newly qualified postgraduate in a firm outside of the city or smaller insolvency practice may expect to earn around £25,000 to £35,000. An average restructuring and insolvency solicitor salary in London is anything from £46,000 to £75,000 based on five years’ experience, according to Reed.co.uk. For those with over ten years of experience, a commercial lawyer salary can range from £50,000 to £100,000. Those based in London and bigger cities will often earn more too. These estimations are ever changing with the landscape of the job market. Be sure to regularly check average salaries when applying for roles.

Useful links

The following student guides have useful information on working in restructuring and insolvency law: Chambers and Partners Student guide, Target Law and the news section of The Insolvency Lawyers’ Association website.