Business and Corporate Law are a branch of the legal field that deals with the economic activities of people, corporations, partnerships and associations. The word corporate refers to both the legal profession of law concerned with corporations, and also to the broader concept of business. The concepts and practices of business law can be described as being different from other fields of law because they are focused on the interests of one type of entity (corporation) rather than on the interests of many different entities (owners, employees, stockholders and customers).
This focus helps business and corporate lawyers deal with a wide range of issues such as corporate reorganization, altercations, acquisitions, mergers, bankruptcies, advertising campaigns, acquisitions, parent litigations, landlord/tenant litigation, and intellectual property disputes. Business and corporate lawyers also provide services that involve assisting the directors and officers of a company in carrying out their responsibilities and functions and are defending the company against claims made against it by third parties.
There are two major areas of business law, namely corporate and Commercial Law. In the area of corporate law, there are two types of entities that are considered to be corporations: those that are publicly held companies and those that are privately held companies. A private corporation is not considered to be a company until it goes public or is listed on a publicly traded exchange. Private companies are subject to different laws and regulations than publicly held companies are and are considered to be in a distinct category altogether.
While all business and corporate law firms deal with some variation of these issues on a daily basis, the area of commercial law tends to be much more abstract and more specific in nature. As a general rule, the more generic the law firm’s offerings, the less likely it is that they will be successful in representing a client in a commercial matter. For instance, most business and corporate law firms will not be successful in court cases concerning the issues of merger negotiations, nor will they be successful in defending a client from a defamatory action or suit. Even if such a lawsuit were successful, the results would often be negative for the plaintiff as a class action suit could bring down the financial capabilities of the defendant and render the mergers ineffective.
Because mergers and acquisitions are such an integral part of business, commercial law attorneys must also be skilled in the area of contract law. This area is even more specialized than the mergers and acquisitions area due to the many overlapping elements of business contracts. Contracts for products, services, money, and property are just a few examples of the kinds of contracts commonly under negotiation. In these cases, a qualified attorney can help a business owner to make sure that their contracts to comply with both state and federal requirements. Additionally, business attorneys must be familiar with all aspects of the business economy, including business taxation, corporate laws, and labor laws.
Litigation is the final step in the Discovery Process, meaning that both parties have had the opportunity to file their initial papers and discovery requests with the court. While this is usually the last step before litigation is filed, it is often the most expensive and time consuming. A qualified attorney representing the party that wishes to litigate a case will be thoroughly familiar with the applicable litigation laws, including the applicable statute of limitations and venue requirement. Such attorneys may also have experience in defending litigation that have been brought against their clients.
Litigation, acquisition and merger negotiations are not the only instances in which business lawyers can be useful to their clients. When companies want to enter into business arrangements with other entities, they may also seek the advice of such attorneys. Many states require prospective business partners to complete a financial impact statement, which can be used as legal leverage when negotiating acquisitions and mergers. These lawyers can help their clients compile a thorough understanding of the value of the acquired entity and any financial loss projected as a result of such a transaction. They can also advise their clients on how to obtain the tax incentives that are available to them if they are engaged in such negotiations.