One of our contributors, Anjali, writes about what made her decide to specialise in commercial law. If you’re interested in this area of legal practice, read on!
Upon attending a range of networking and career-related events, going into commercial law has become far more appealing to me and certainly displays all the qualities of a career I may enjoy.
A Word of Warning
Unfortunately, despite many commercial solicitors encouraging students at career events to apply to work at competitive firms within their commercial department, there is one fallacy that often shocks students aspiring to become commercial solicitors. It is harder than they were told it was and certainly harder than they assumed.
Long hours, strict deadline compliance, high-pressure situations, excellent teamwork skills and an ability to sacrifice your life for your work are only part of what commercial solicitors may be expected to do. Of course, this is not ideal but commercial solicitors are determined and passionate when it comes to their work and are willing to make this sacrifice to get the job done. So be warned: this is hard work.
Why Become a Commercial Solicitor?
For me personally, the focus of this question should be split into two areas:
Both of these can be answered in a variety of articles on The Lawyer Portal. However, taking a personal view on the issue may provide aspiring commercial solicitors of an idea of why I am drawn to commercial law.
I have grown up with a business-mindset. My parents have always had their own businesses, a particular venture in the hospitality sector which I found myself increasingly interested in. They would consider business opportunities outside of the sphere of delivering excellent service and products, and branch out by making sales at fairs, or providing catering to parties of all sizes. This was only a small part of their work, but it was a part that certainly interested me.
From working stalls to negotiating prices for catering, at a young age, I was heavily involved in the business process, and these skills have helped me with daily life. The way my parents looked at business too, searching for opportunities to expand and build upon their current work, also highlighted the importance of not being static in a dynamic market, where demand for services is constantly changing.
Naturally, I am intrigued by commercial law, primarily because of the need to understand business as a whole and the need for growth and development in a market whose trends are hard to follow constantly. This awareness of changing markets is also something that has been fundamental in furthering my interests in commercial law, particularly when concerning the importance of technology in both improving business and hindering it. After all, with greater technological development comes greater risks. This is something that can be seen not only through cybersecurity issues but the obscurity surrounding investment in cryptocurrency.
When it comes to becoming a commercial solicitor, many would see benefits in the security of the job, especially in contrast to the self-employed barrister. However, greater security does not mean the work is in any way easier. The level of research skills, critical analysis skills and the ability to adapt to difficult and sudden scenarios that may arise are all necessary for commercial solicitors. Considering the aims and demands of clients as well, you must be able to balance providing excellent communication to clients with an excellent level of legal service, catering to both the business needs and the legal needs of the client.
Are You Commercially Aware?
I believe a core part of deciding whether to become a commercial solicitor or not stems from having commercial interests. This means caring about the insolvency of a business, threats to business and the impact it has on consumers and public protection, all of which will have an impact on legal issues relating to business.
For example, the cybersecurity breaches of hotel groups in recent years may increase concerns for legal regulations and obligations of these groups but also banks, whose clients may have been affected as well as those investing in the business itself. Interest in such issues is vital to becoming a successful, passionate commercial solicitor.
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Importantly, your decision to become a commercial solicitor may be determined by the modules you most enjoy, or excel in. Many say that interest in contract and tort law is fundamental when it comes to a career as a commercial solicitor. Aside from the greater range of modules available to students in later years, the question as to whether you enjoy the issues that most often arise in commercial settings is crucial in personally understanding whether you would enjoy a career as a commercial solicitor.
Corporate or Commercial Law?
Furthermore, there is a distinction between corporate law and commercial law that many students may overlook. Are you focusing on one and ignoring the other? It is important that you avoid doing so, both areas overlap significantly and knowledge and interest in both may certainly indicate your suitability towards a career as a commercial solicitor. An example of the overlap may when concerning the life cycle of a company: its position at launch, its growth and development, its decline and of course an analysis of issues impacting each of these stages. Being business-minded and having an interest in the businesses you are working with will naturally see you interested in these issues, and the legal issues that may aid or hinder business development over time too.
How to Be Sure
You may want to get a better idea of whether being a commercial solicitor is the right career for you by researching the career further, doing virtual internships, gaining work experience and more. Importantly, if you are in part-time work, understanding the functions of the business and recognising the relevance of legal issues with regard to the businesses may also determine your interests in commercial law. You may also want to explore areas outside of commercial law to see if there is a practice area you prefer in comparison or not.