Beware of stereotypes: Commercial law – neither fish nor fowl?
There are all sorts of rumours and misconceptions about different occupations and degree programmes. Our course insiders clear up the clichés once and for all.
Stereotype 1: Commercial law? Isn’t that just ‘law-lite’, for people who are scared of state examinations?
That’s too simplistic a view. Commercial lawyers are very specialised. They have in-depth knowledge of exactly what they need to know about for their day-to-day work. Commercial expertise is not needed in a murder case, just as a knowledge of juvenile criminal law is unnecessary in an accounting firm.
Stereotype 2: As a commercial lawyer, you’re neither fish nor fowl; you’re not a fully-fledged lawyer but you’re not fully qualified in business administration either. So what sort of job can you get?
Many people think that if you don’t represent clients, you’re not a real lawyer. But in some cases, commercial lawyers and fully qualified lawyers are both involved in making important decisions for the company, working together within the same team.
Unlike fully qualified lawyers, we commercial lawyers study a certain amount of maths and accounting as part of our course. We can read balance sheets and, contrary to the legal dictum “iudex non calculat” (the judge does not calculate), we know how to deal with numbers. So if you want to work for an auditing company, for example, commercial law might even be the better option.
As Die Zeit once wrote: commercial law is like salt and pepper, but from a single shaker.
Stereotype 3: Two lawyers, three opinions.
For almost every legal problem, there are at least two opinions that can be well justified. And remember: whatever is legally justifiable is right. That’s why it’s so vital to be able to draw on in-depth knowledge to advise and represent your clients.
Ultimately, this doesn’t change the following pearl of wisdom: A good lawyer knows the law. A better lawyer knows the judge.