Role Breakdown: Commercial Counsel

Commercial counsel play an essential role for businesses by advising them on their transactions with customers, as well as with other businesses. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the working life of commercial counsel.

Role Breakdown: Commercial Counsel

What is commercial law?

Commercial law is the field of law covering the sale or distribution of goods and services, and financial transactions associated with this.  

Much of American commercial law is set out in the Universal Commercial Code (UCC), which is a comprehensive body of rules for commercial transactions that has been adopted by all fifty states. However, not all states have adopted the UCC in an identical way, and each state’s law may have different interpretations for some parts of it. It is therefore important for commercial attorneys to have local knowledge.

Business law is a closely related field, covering company formation, shareholder rights, commercial leases, and mergers and acquisitions. Both federal and state law are relevant here. Good commercial counsel will have a strong knowledge of business law too.

What does commercial counsel do?

Businesses want to be sure that the agreements they reach with other businesses – such as their suppliers – can be enforced, and that these agreements do not put them under any unwanted or unexpected obligations. They also want to make sure that their dealings with customers do not breach any laws such as those set out in the UCC as it applies in their state.  

Commercial counsel advises businesses on these issues, helping with drafting, negotiating, and managing contracts. Their work can cover purchase agreements, service agreements, and all manner of contracts. They may also be involved in composing commercial reports and drafting other paperwork associated with business agreements.  

It’s common to find larger companies employing their own in-house commercial counsel, while many other commercial attorneys work within law firms, serving many clients.  

How much does commercial counsel make?

Salary levels vary according to experience, location, employer, and role. As an indicator, the median entry salary for a commercial attorney in New York is around $75,000, rising to $120,000 after ten years’ experience. In Des Moines, Iowa, the median entry-level salary is $62,000, rising to $97,000 after ten years.

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