Corporate law regulates how corporations, investors, shareholders, directors, employees, creditors, and other stakeholders interact with each other. Business and law have always been closely related but never more so than with this subject. We caught up with our Senior Tutor of the MA in Company Law, course, Patrick Hubble, to discuss the course benefits and what career paths it can lead to.
Everybody involved in business of any sort will have dealings with companies, and most working in business will work within the environment of a company. Companies come in all shapes and sizes, from one-person private companies to listed public companies. There are particular considerations and rules which may apply to different types of companies, but there is also a large body of law applicable to all of them.
Academic MAs in law can be general or specialised. Many specialised areas of law are interdisciplinary, meaning that students from a wide range of backgrounds would be interested in pursuing an in-depth study of such fields. Business School students would be equally interested in areas such as Company Law as Law School students.
Company Law is fundamental to many areas of legal practice, whether as a barrister, solicitor or other legal professional. But company law touches many professions, from accountancy to corporate finance and banking, to company secretarial, administration and governance posts. Anyone involved in business in their professional life will acquire a knowledge and understanding of an area which may be highly relevant to their day-to-day lives. It’s fine for lawyers to know all about directors’ duties, but it’s even better if company directors do.
When studying the MA in Company Law, students can choose to study modules such as Cyberlaws, Corporate Governance in Practice and International Trade Law. Those with particular accreditations in mind will study areas especially relevant to those; for example, those studying for our ICSA accredited qualification (LLM Corporate Governance Grad ICSA) will include Board Dynamics and Strategy within their key modules.
It is easy to over-emphasise the international nature of things when it comes to certain areas of the law. The global and digital world is a massive challenge for intellectual property lawyers, and the rise of the internet shows the difficulties of a world where legal borders break down, but not quite such a big problem for company lawyers, as companies are jurisdiction-specific. Law firms and businesses, however, need to cope in a globalised world – hence the need for lawyers in multiple jurisdictions. The world is not one without legal borders, whether there are physical ones or not. As we all know, we may soon be seeing more borders, not fewer.
All law is a living subject – what matters is what happens in real lives, in courts, in boardrooms, in deals, in businesses, in our pensions, savings and mortgages. Company law features in all of this, together with its bedfellow, corporate insolvency. Most of us are affected by companies in ways we often do not appreciate.
One of the joys of studying Company Law is that it is a continually evolving subject, but one whose roots are still firmly embedded in concepts incrementally developed over many decades. A Victorian company lawyer would be amazed at the level of complexity there is now in company law, but it would not by any means be an unrecognisable subject – they would soon pick it up.
Company law can be a fascinating area of study, given its rich and complex history. Start your studies by making sure that you understand the core concepts, roles and relationships, and don’t get lost in the detail. As Desmond Tutu reminded us, “There’s only one way to eat an elephant: a bite at a time” – a quote made for company law. The Companies Act 2006 has over 1,000 sections, but there’s not a practitioner anywhere who could reel them all off – nobody eats the whole elephant.
Discover more about studying an MA in Company Law now.