Researching Areas of Law [Part 1]


It can be very difficult to decide what area of law you want to specialise in. There is an array of choice when it comes to practising law from corporate to planning and infrastructure, no two layers are the same. It can be daunting to pick a law firm based on an area of law you haven’t had the chance to study at university. The aim of this article, and the two others which will follow, is to provide an insight into the legal sector.

Banking & Finance

The hours depend on the transactions you are working on; if your deals are busy, you will be too.

Choose this if you have…

  • Sound ‘black letter law’.

  • Drafting and analytical reasoning skills.

  • Excellent project management skills.

  • Commercial acumen.

  • The ability to deal with clients (sometimes in challenging and time-pressured situations).

  • Teamwork skills.

Banking and finance is about borrowing and lending money; a lawyer’s job is to facilitate this process.

Building client relationships is probably the single most important aspect of developing a successful banking and finance practice; you will be given a chance to (and expected to) look for opportunities to socialise and engage with clients.

Types of law practised

  • Contract.

  • Property.

  • Trusts.

  • Regulatory.

Capital Markets

Capital markets involves a huge variety of transactions and clients but unpredictable working hours.

Choose this if you have…

  • The ability to distil complex concepts in a way non-lawyers can understand.

  • An understanding of how the markets work.

  • Ability to juggle a number of matters at once.

It is a legally heavy area of practice and you have to be a technically sound company lawyer to succeed. On top of the black letter law, there is also a lot of regulatory guidance and practices that you need to be familiar with. It is a good area of law for those who like an intellectual challenge.

Types of law practised

  • Contract.

  • Company.

  • Financial services.

  • Financial Conduct Authority regulation and guidance.

  • European Union law (many laws are either derived from EU directives or enshrined in EU regulations that have direct effect).


Clients include banks, insurance companies, hedge funds, private equity funds, property companies and governments.

Choose this if you have…

  • Initiative.

  • Enthusiasm.

  • Good communication skills.

  • Common sense.

  • The ability to distil academic legal concepts into solutions clients can understand.

  • The desire to work with clients and lawyers on the other side.

Commercial law is a broad term covering anything that City law firms do. Commercial lawyers handle a broad range of corporate deals.

There is a lot of variety in commercial law; the economy evolves, and the clients change.

Types of law practised

  • Contract.

  • Trusts.

  • Land.

  • Financial regulation.

  • Insolvency.

  • Tax.


Many competition lawyers spend a portion of their career in Brussels.

Choose this if you have…

  • An interest in markets.

  • An inquisitive and analytical mind.

  • An ability to draft persuasive arguments.

  • An ability to get on well with people.

Competition law is about making markets operate fairly for consumers. Broadly, it can be divided into antitrust (i.e. preventing abuse of dominant market positions and anti-competitive agreements between market players) and merger control (i.e. preventing companies from getting dominant through mergers and acquisitions).

It is a great job for people who are interested in how businesses and markets work.

Types of law practised

  • EU and UK competition law.

  • Competition litigation.


The construction industry is likely to be severely impacted by a ‘hard’ Brexit.

Choose this if you have…

  • A sharp mind.

  • Emotional intelligence and effective communication skills.

  • Good attention to detail.

  • Resilience and the drive to look for commercial opportunities.

Construction law solicitors work with anyone who may be involved in working in the built environment, to help settle disputes or draw up the necessary contracts for work to being on a project.

Clients include developers, contractors, engineers, architects, surveyors, insurance companies and investors.

Construction solicitors spend most of their time in the office but also visit clients or meet in chambers to discuss the case with clients, experts and barristers.

Types of law practised

  • Contract law.

  • Tort.


A drive to be involved in the cut and thrust of doing deals is needed.

Choose this if you have…

  • Attention to detail.

  • Organisational skills and the ability to prioritise.

  • Teamwork and communication.

  • A healthy dose of common sense.

  • An interest in business and being involved in the cut and thrust of doing deals.

  • Grit, drive and determination – a willingness to roll up your sleeves.

Corporate lawyers advise clients on buying and selling companies and businesses, joint ventures and stock market listings (IPOs) and other transactions.

Experts from other practice areas in the firm are consulted if needed, such as tax, employment, competition and anti-trust, and regulatory lawyers.

Types of law practised

  • Company.

  • Securities.

  • Contract.

  • Also touch on:

  • Tort;

  • Property;

  • Tax;

  • Employment and;

  • Health and safety.


Strong advocacy, listening and communication skills are needed here.

Choose this if you have…

  • Strong advocacy, listening and communication skills.

  • The ability to help and identify with others.

  • Extensive knowledge and the ability to be generous with it.

Some practitioners in this field deal purely with defence work; others specialise in prosecution.

Developments and innovations affecting this area of law attract lots of media attention, keeping the work interesting and topical.

A career in criminal law is a difficult one to choose at the moment because it is changing rapidly.

There are fewer specialist firms resulting in a lack of competition.


High emotional intelligence and listening skills are needed when dealing with people issues.

Choose this if you have…

  • High emotional intelligence as you are dealing with people issues.

  • The ability to listen, observe, understand your client and their business, and then translate your legal advice into practical advice so your client achieves their objective.

  • The ability to write clearly and in plain English.

Employment law is about understanding the contractual and statutory rights and obligations arising out of the employment relationship.

This area of law also includes understanding the rights and responsibilities in relation to officeholders (directors, governors and trustees) and those who are self-employed.

Types of law practised

  • Statutory.

  • Contract.

  • An element of common law.

Energy, Transport & Infrastructure

Advances in technology have had a big impact on this field.

Choose this if you have…

  • Commercial acumen – a strong commercial understanding of the market you are operating in.

  • Tenacity and resilience.

Solicitors in this field get involved in commercial drafting, acquisitions, litigation, arbitration, real estate and employment law.

Lawyers advise large vehicle manufacturers, charterers, commodities traders, superyacht owners, train companies, bus companies, freight forwarders, hauliers, marine insurers, motor insurers – some are household names.

Types of law practised

  • Contract.

  • Tort.

  • Shipping.

  • Insurance.

  • Commercial.

Hopefully, you have found this article insightful, leaving you more confident to dive into a legal career in a lesser-known area of law. Look out for my next article which continues to delve deeper into the different areas of law.


Hannah Roleston is a final year law student at the University of Dundee. During her time at university she is an active member of the University of Dundee Mooting Society and spends her free time playing hockey. Hannah is an aspiring solicitor with a passion for Commercial Awareness.

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