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Commercial Lawyer: Job Description, Duties and Salary

Commercial lawyers require a significant amount of formal education. Learn about the degree programs, job duties and licensure requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

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Commercial lawyers generally review and draft legal paperwork for businesses. They usually work in-house or for a law firm, and may have to represent a client in court. Lawyers in general earn median pay of $115,820.

Essential Information

Commercial lawyers are attorneys who specialize in business law. They might work on negotiating and drafting contracts, reviewing employment agreements or company mergers. Some commercial lawyers work for a law firm and represent many clients, while others are employed by a company and represent its legal interests exclusively. Like all attorneys, commercial lawyers must hold a law degree, which usually requires three years of post-baccalaureate study, and pass their state's bar exam for licensure.

Required Education Juris Doctor (J.D.) from an accredited law school
Other Requirements State licensure
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 6% for all lawyers
Median Annual Salary (2015)* $115,820 for all lawyers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Job Description of a Commercial Lawyer

Commercial lawyers deal with issues pertaining to business transactions. They may draft client agreements, negotiate employment contracts or write purchase agreements.

Commercial lawyers often practice in law firms on behalf of multiple clients of the firm's commercial transactions department. Since disputes about commercial transactions are usually brought to trial before a court, these departments commonly work in close contact with a firm's litigation department. Some commercial lawyers work for a single corporation and are known as in-house attorneys. They also might be employed by the government or international agencies. In these positions, they review international business transactions or negotiate trade, employment and other agreements.

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Commercial Lawyer Job Duties

In general, commercial lawyers review company paperwork, particularly contracts, and draft business documents. They usually spend a lot of time researching, writing and editing commercial reports. This might entail examining national, international and local laws to identify any rules they must follow or conflicts that might arise.

The documents they write may be related to establishing or dissolving a business, merging two businesses, creating sales contracts, establishing non-compete clauses or changing a business's organizational structure. When necessary, commercial lawyers collaborate with other lawyers, clients or government agencies to execute paperwork or complete transactions. They may also engage in negotiations on behalf of their clients.

Salary Information for a Commercial Lawyer

Although commercial lawyers work in a specific field of law, their specialty is not commonly separated in terms of salary statistics. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that there were nearly 609,930 lawyers in the nation in 2015. On average, these lawyers earned a median salary of $115,820 in May 2015. The BLS also stated that lawyers who practiced as partners tended to earn more than independent lawyers.

A lawyer involved in business affairs is known as a commercial lawyer. These attorneys handle contracts, transactions, acquisitions, and other legal documents and procedures. All lawyers must have a college and law school degree, and state licensure. While the job outlook is relatively average for the profession, median earnings tend to be good for all lawyers.

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