Smaller law practice areas

Find out about real estate law, employment law, EU law, and tax law at commercial law firms

The majority of lawyers at large commercial law firms work in corporate, finance and dispute resolution, but other smaller departments are also found.

A significant part of the work that these departments do is advising colleagues when issues in their area come up in their deals or disputes.

They also train lawyers in other departments on their area of law, and let them know about important changes in it.

Lawyers in these departments may also have their own clients and their own deals or disputes. Their work on these might resemble those of their colleagues in corporate, banking, or litigation and dispute resolution.

For example, lawyers in property departments working on the sale of a commercial building will work in a similar way to corporate lawyers working on the sale of a company. Employment lawyers acting for clients involved in disputes will go through similar court or tribunal processes to their colleagues in litigation.

The size of these departments and the kind of work they do varies significantly between different large commercial firms. So if you're interested in one of these areas, choose your firm carefully.

Real estate

Real estate lawyers at large commercial firms often work on the sale or leasing of commercial properties.

Some have expertise in finance and/or corporate law as well as property law and will work on financing real estate deals or with investment funds involving real estate assets.

On the advisory side, real estate lawyers will assist colleagues with corporate or finance transactions involving real estate assets, such as a merger between two companies owning large amounts of property, or a loan deal where the lenders take rights over real estate owned by the borrower.

Real estate lawyers may also assist dispute resolution colleagues working on disputes involving property.

Employment

Employment lawyers at large commercial firms advise clients on how their employment contracts should be drafted.

They might also assist corporate and finance colleagues on the employment law aspects of corporate and finance deals - for example, on how employees are dealt with when their employer is bought by another company.

They may well also work on employment disputes, such as unfair dismissal or discrimination claims, usually acting for the defendant company rather than the claimant employee.

EU

EU lawyers at large commercial law firms work in connection with EU regulation of the way in which companies operate.

This might include assisting clients with the EU law aspects of transactions, representing clients in discussions or disputes with regulatory authorities, or providing advice and updates to colleagues on current issues or upcoming changes in EU law.

EU lawyers often focus in particular on competition work, such as giving advice, often in the context of a proposed merger, on European rules designed to prevent any one company in a particular market becoming overly dominant. They might also advise companies accused of price fixing, or on European regulation of government subsidies to companies.

They may also advise on issues around the free movement of goods, services, capital and people, which is permitted but regulated under EU law.

Tax

Many tax lawyers at large commercial law firms will focus on assisting their colleagues in corporate or finance departments with the tax aspects of their deals.

They will advise on the way in which deals are structured to ensure they're as tax-efficient as possible, review tax clauses in documents, and answer any questions on tax issues as they come up.

Some tax lawyers may assist clients with disputes with tax authorities.

And that's not all...

At some commercial firms you'll find a few lawyers specialising in:

Insurance

Insurance lawyers work on transactions and disputes relating to the insurance sector, and may advise on insurance regulation.

Private client

Private client lawyers assist wealthy individuals, often directors or owners of client companies, with personal asset management and tax planning.

Sport

Sports lawyers work on commercial transactions and disputes involving clients in the sports business and advise on sports regulation.

White collar crime

White collar crime lawyers act for individuals accused of business-related crimes such as bribery, fraud and insider dealing.

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