To become a commercial lawyer you must acquire certification to practice law in your region. This is a process that varies widely depending on country and region, but it generally requires undertaking legal education at an accredited school of law, followed by meeting region specific licensing requirements. In the United States, this means attending law school after earning an undergraduate degree, taking a state level bar exam, and then being hired by a commercial law firm or the legal division of a company.
Commercial lawyers provide legal services to businesses including supervising corporate structuring, establishment of new firms or divisions, protection of intellectual property, management of negotiations and transactions, and assistance in mergers and acquisitions. If you would like to become a commercial lawyer, it is important to realize the job may require seven or more years of education, frequent travel to meet with clients, and hours spent in the office beyond a typical work week. Places that hire commercial lawyers include law firms that specialize in corporate clients and companies that have a need for an in house lawyer or legal staff. Commercial lawyers communicate with clients to provide legal advice, draft documents, statements, and case briefs, supervise mediation, and conduct case research.
The first step to become a commercial lawyer is obtaining an undergraduate level Bachelor's degree. No specific type of degree is required, though programs should develop writing, research ability, critical thinking, and public speaking. For commercial law it may be a good idea to choose a degree based on the type of law you wish to practice, such as business or finance. If your interest is intellectual property, you might choose to focus on computer science or engineering.
In the United States, the next step to become a commercial lawyer after earning an undergraduate degree is to attend law school. Other countries have different legal education programs that may include a combination of coursework, assessment, and practical experience working with a law firm. Admission to law school is a competitive process that includes taking the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) and submitting a transcript of grades earned in completed undergraduate coursework. Law schools usually look at undergraduate grades, test scores, extra-curricular activities, and application essays or statements of purpose to decide admission.
Law school in the United States usually lasts three years, with the first half of the program typically focusing on general coursework such as torts, contracts, and property law. The second half of law school allows for class specialization, and this is when coursework specific commercial law is taken. During law school, students often work as clerks over the summer for law firms to gain experience.
Once law school or other regional legal educational requirements have been completed, it is necessary to obtain a license to practice law before you can become a commercial lawyer. In the United States, this is regulated on the state level by the state bar association. The bar examination is a written test that assesses the knowledge gained in law school, and also has a personal ethics component. Once this has been passed, you would then be licensed to practice law in your state, and could begin work as a commercial lawyer.