Corporate lawyers are experts in legal issues in enterprises.
An article by Lisa Srikiow in collaboration with Johanna Ritter
Studying Business Law:
That is what it’s about
It's not just scandals like the manipulated emission levels at VW that generate business for corporate lawyers. Their expertise is sought after when companies are planning a takeover, are expanding abroad, want to apply for a patent, etc. Both legal and business content is taught in the degree program in Economic Law. Corporate lawyers work from the perspective of a company in this context – and also incorporate non-legal aspects. "If a customer complains about something, a corporate lawyer doesn't just assess whether the customer actually has a claim. He also thinks about what is better for the company: to assert its rights or to be accommodating in order to retain the customer over the long term," says Peter Kiel, professor of Economic Law at the Hochschule Wismar. The legal part of the degree course focuses particularly intensively on what is known as private law which governs the relationship between equal legal entities (people, but also companies). Students learn, for example, how a contract comes into being and how the relationship between creditors and debtors is structured in legal terms. From the very beginning, they practise solving practical legal cases. Later, the focus is often on antitrust and competition law, international private and purchasing law or economic criminal law. In the business administration part of the degree course, students learn about the departments of a company and deal with cost accounting, balance sheets, controlling and management. After all, they need to know what managers do because they will support them later on. Communication training, negotiation skills, mediation and rhetoric are also covered. Students select their own areas of specialisation in the later semesters of the Bachelor's. Typical subjects are labour law, insolvency law or reorganisation management. At most universities, a practical semester is planned in the Bachelor's degree course which is completed, for example, in the legal or human resources department of a company or at a tax adviser's office.
suitability, obstacles, misconceptions
As a corporate lawyer, you should enjoy communicating, working on texts and logical thinking. "We want to persuade people with arguments. To do this, we have to be able to precisely analyse legal texts and contracts," says Peter Kiel. Good proficiency in English is also essential because English contract and legal texts are often worked on. At some universities, there are special courses for legal English and the Anglo-American legal system. Important: with a degree in Economic Law, it is not possible to become a lawyer, prosecutor or judge. This is only possible with the traditional degree course in Law. About half of the degree courses have entrance restrictions, often requiring grades in the two range.