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Why commercial law?

16 August 2022

Choosing to follow a career in commercial law is a significant decision in your law career pathway.

If you are a young lawyer or an undergraduate law student, you may be deciding which area of law you would like to practice. Or, perhaps, you are a seasoned legal practitioner considering changing your area of practice.

No matter which law path you are considering, this guide will help you understand commercial law as a specialisation and how this field of study can benefit you.

This guide will take you through the following questions:

  • What is commercial law?
  • What do commercial lawyers do?
  • Why do you want to work in commercial law?
  • Why study commercial law?

Discover why commercial law is a powerful specialisation to have.

What is commercial law?

Commercial law concerns itself with the commercial activities that businesses engage in. This tends to be transactional work that covers a variety of topics, such as:

  • contract law
  • property law
  • competition law
  • international trade
  • intellectual property and many other topics.

Commercial law is very much based on the day-to-day operations of the business.

What do commercial lawyers do?

The focus of commercial lawyers is the business community. Commercial lawyers tend to either focus on larger commercial clients or small businesses. Either way, their roles include:

  • providing advice on commercial transactions
  • helping settle commercial disputes

This typically involves guiding clients through all phases of transactions and managing paperwork.

David Chung, founding director of Creo Legal, specialises in commercial law. His role includes negotiating contracts and drafting agreements. “Some of these contracts can be hundreds of pages long,” Mr Chung says, which is just one reason why businesses might need a good commercial lawyer on their side.

Other activities that commercial lawyers get involved in are:

  • Due diligence tasks involved with the sale of business assets. This can include government-related issues, licensing matters and a whole range of other checks.
  • Legal checks when a business is buying an asset. This is to “make sure that what they’re buying isn’t subject to some third-party interest”, says Mr Chung.
  • Major business decisions. That could have a legal impact on the day-to-day running of a business.

While lawyers have traditionally worked outside the core operations of a business, this is no longer the case. These days, legal teams can work more efficiently when working side by side with their business clients. Mr Chung mentions that “the company secretary of a large company is generally a lawyer”, adding, “so if they don’t have an in-house legal team, they would engage an outside law firm. Commercial and corporate lawyers have a lot to do with the company secretary or the chief operations officer.”

Commercial lawyers walking

What’s the difference between commercial and corporate law?

Some people use the term commercial law interchangeably with corporate law. But are commercial and corporate law the same? While they both deal with businesses and business activities, they differ in other ways.

Corporate law is based on the governance of companies and company structures. It deals with the rights, relations and conduct of businesses. It is a specialised area of law and, like commercial law, is highly valued by business clients. Corporate law activities include:

  • mergers and acquisitions
  • corporate restructuring
  • insolvency
  • finance
  • litigation

The average salary in Australia for a commercial solicitor is $127,286 per year. So while commercial law can be hard work – like many other careers – it can also be rewarding.

Why do you want to work in commercial law?

To help you answer this question, we asked Mr Chung why he practises commercial law. As with any career choice, he says, “you’ve got to ultimately enjoy what you’re doing.”

Mr Chung worked in law firms as an employee for many years, servicing larger clients. During his time as an employee, he learned a lot about startup businesses.

As Mr Chung started his own law firm at a young age with a keen interest in technology, it made sense to him to service startup clients. Mr Chung explains, “I’m still younger than the average director, so the dynamic is different. Some of my clients are in their early twenties and have created an app, product or service. And it’s usually quite daunting for someone like that to see a lawyer, as a lot of them are still at university. Almost all of them have never seen a lawyer before. So to go speak to a lawyer in a big office is a little scary for them.”

Mr Chung finds that his clients relate to him easier, as he is not too much older than them in age, he works from home, and most importantly, can communicate with them in ways that they prefer, via email, over Zoom or in person.

“If you can either relate to a particular client base or have the skills that can service a particular client, then it makes sense to target them,” Mr Chung says.

So if you’re considering whether you should become a commercial or corporate lawyer, think about the type of client you would like to service.

Why study commercial law?

There are many benefits of studying commercial law.

Not only does it allow you to build specialist legal expertise, but you’ll also learn practical, real-world skills you can use right away. And if you wish to become an Accredited Specialist in commercial law, a Master of Laws (Business Law) (LLM) can boost your application.

SCU Online’s Master of Laws (Business Law) is the fastest part-time LLM available in Australia. It is 100 per cent online and, unlike many universities, there are six intakes each year. This provides you with the flexibility to start studying at a time that suits you. Eligible students can also access FEE-HELP.

Studying for a Master of Laws is highly academic, however finding the time to study for it shouldn’t be challenging. At SCU Online, we provide ongoing learning support – to ensure that your needs are met every step of the way. You will have your own dedicated Student Success Advisor to help you achieve your best possible results.

Start your commercial law career with a Master of Laws (Business Law)

Now that you have learnt “why commercial law”, are you ready to take your legal career to the next level? Learn more about our Master of Laws (Business Law) to see how it can benefit you.