From law student to City lawyer | Law on The Gateway

From law student to City lawyer

The Gateway's guide to what you'll learn along the way

Academic stage

The focus of this stage of qualification is on academic legal study. You'll fulfil this requirement on an undergraduate law degree, or on the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) course at law school.

What will you study?

There are seven subjects that all potential lawyers must study to fulfil the academic stage of qualification. But note that, whether you complete them at university or at law school, your course is likely to include other material as well.

  • Constitutional and administrative law: The law that regulates the relationship between government and citizens.
  • Contract law: The law of legally binding agreements.
  • Criminal law : The law relating to criminal offences.
  • Equity and trusts law : The legal principles that allow property to be held by one party on behalf of another.
  • EU law: The law of the European Union.
  • Land law : The law relating to land and property.
  • Tort law: The law relating to the breach of civil duties.

Vocational stage

The focus of this stage of qualifications is on how lawyers apply the law to real-life situations, draft documents, and work with clients. You'll usually fulfil this requirement on the Legal Practice Course (LPC) at law school.

What will you study?

Core practice areas

  • Business law and practice: The law and legal practices relating to the establishment and running of businesses.
  • Civil litigation: The law and legal practices relating to civil (non-criminal) dispute resolution through legal proceedings.
  • Criminal litigation: The law and legal practices relating to criminal prosecutions.
  • Property law and practice: The law and legal practices relating to the sale and leasing of property. Skills

  • Advocacy (arguing a case orally)
  • Interviewing and advising
  • Legal drafting (preparing legal documents)
  • Legal research
  • Legal writing (preparing non-legal documents needed in legal practice) Other areas

  • Professional conduct and regulation
  • Taxation
  • Wills and administration of estates Electives

Most law schools have many available electives, of which you must take three. The following are the areas which are most useful for law in the City - if you have a training contract at a City firm, your firm is likely to require you to take one or more electives covering the topics in this list.

  • Advanced commercial litigation: Further law and legal practices relating to civil disputes.
  • Advanced commercial property: Further law and legal practices relating to the sale and leasing of property.
  • Commercial law: Law and legal practices relating to the sale of goods, commercial contracts, competition law, and intellectual property.
  • Debt finance: Law and legal practices relating to the borrowing of money.
  • Equity finance Law and legal practices relating to the way in which companies raise money through issuing shares.: Mergers and acquisitions Law and legal practices relating to the sale and purchase of companies.

    Training contract - and beyond

Once you start working at a City law firm, you'll be able to put the knowledge and skills you've acquired into practice. Here is our summary of which ones you might expect to use in each department and examples of when you would do so.

Corporate

  • Business law and practice: When drafting board minutes authorising a transaction.
  • Mergers and acquisitions: When acting for a client involved in a hostile takeover of a competitor.

    Banking

  • Equity and trusts law: When working on documents granting lenders rights over the assets of a borrower.
  • Debt finance: When working on the transfer of a loan from a current lender to another party.

    Debt capital markets

  • Debt finance: When analysing the regulation governing bond issues.

    Equity capital markets

  • Equity finance: When acting for a client on the initial public offering (IPO) of its shares.

    Litigation

  • Advocacy: When arguing your client's case during a trial, at a pre-trial hearing, or at a meeting with other parties involved.
  • Civil litigation: When working out when you need to file a document relating to a client's case at court.

    Real estate

  • Land law: When analysing whether or not a lease is legally valid.
  • Property law and practice: When reviewing the title deeds to a property that your client is considering buying.

    Competition and trade

  • Commercial law: When drafting an agreement for a client under which they'll appoint a foreign agent.
  • EU law: When advising whether a commercial deal is in breach of European anti-cartel regulations.

    Knowledge and skills you'll use in every department

  • Business law and practice
  • Contract law
  • Interviewing and advising
  • Legal drafting
  • Legal research
  • Legal writing
  • Professional conduct and regulation

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