An Overview of Different Areas of The Law

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Core Knowledge for those Considering Training Contracts: An Overview of Different Areas of The Law, Focused on Commerce

There are many different legal practice areas in which you can specialise. This list provides a brief overview of the major commercial and financial areas which you might wish to investigate.


Arbitration is the technique of resolving disputes outside a court setting – which can be commercial or civil. Parties will present their case to an arbitrator, or a panel of arbitrators, who then provides a decision that the parties are bound by.

Banking & Finance Law

Banking and finance is a large and diverse area of the law. The primary focus is loan transactions, although the area covers all financial products, services and transaction types. A finance lawyer might find themselves working on complex structured finance offerings, dealing with mergers & acquisitions, or advising on an investment or loan. To succeed here, you will need to show great commercial awareness.

Competition & Antitrust

An antitrust law is designed to protect consumers from predatory business practices, and to ensure that fair competition can take place. Antitrust is the US term, whereas in the UK the term competition is normally used. Antitrust laws are applied to a range of different business activities, including market allocation, bid rigging, price fixing, and monopolies. Without antitrust laws, consumers would have less choice, would be likely to pay more, and would be at the whims of a small group or limited supply.

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Corporate Law

Corporate law governs how companies function. This involves shareholders, directors, the company’s creditors, and any other stakeholders in the company. It will cover the company from its inception through to the services it provides today. You should be aware of the Companies Act 2006 if you are interested in this field. 

Criminal Law

Criminal law covers the punishment of those who violate laws. If you are studying Law, then you will already be aware of the basics of Criminal Law – if not, then you should ensure that you familiarise yourself with it.

Dispute Resolution

Dispute resolution can be divided into adjudicative processes like litigation and arbitration, and into consensual processes like mediation, conciliation or negotiation. You will typically take at least one seat in this area as part of your training contract.

Employment Law

Employment law regulates the relationship between employer and employee, and sets out the rights and obligations of both parties. It is related to pension law, as employers will often have to provide access to a pension for their workers.

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Energy and Infrastructure Law (also known as Project Law)

This area of law covers transactions in the energy sector, and projects in road systems, rail, telecoms, and other forms of transport or utility projects. If you wish to work in this field, you will need to be able to consider a range of commercial, geographical and political factors.

Insolvency Law

Insolvency law covers companies in the UK which cannot repay the debts that they have accrued. This is as opposed to bankruptcy law, which covers individuals rather than companies. Insolvency law allows lawyers to decide on the extent to which a company’s creditors can reclaim the amount that they are owed. Today, you should expect to work to save the company and its employees, as well as providing a fair resolution for the creditors.

Insurance Law

Insurance law covers insurance policies and claims. It therefore is made up of the regulation of insurance claims themselves, the regulation of insurance policies (e.g. ensuring that the consumer receives a fair deal), and the regulation of the wider insurance industry. You will need a good knowledge of contract law and litigation to succeed in this area.

Shipping and Maritime Law

Shipping law covers all areas of the financing and construction of ships, as well as their use and insurance. This covers both ‘shipping’ in terms of goods, and also ships used to carry persons. Maritime law is less commercial, and covers both accidents at sea and the more routine commercial or contractual issues that maritime companies or ships might face.

Tax Law

Tax law covers the taxation of companies and individuals. It has both contentious and non-contentious work. You can work in the public or private sector as a tax lawyer – lawyers could advise individuals and companies, or could work for the government to enforce tax regulations and legislation.

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