Who do large commercial law firms advise and assist as clients? Here's a guide to the broad range of organisations and individuals that turn to these firms for help with business issues and business opportunities.
A corporate might hire a law firm to advise them when they want to purchase another company, sell their shares on a stock exchange, borrow money, resolve a dispute, or when they need help with a wide range of other kinds of transaction or issue.
In each case, lawyers will advise the corporate on their legal position, draft the necessary legal documents for the matter they're working on, ensure the other legal aspects of it run smoothly, and check that everything the corporate undertakes in connection with the matter complies with the law.
For example: Barclays, Credit Suisse, Morgan Stanley
Lawyers advise banks on the legal aspects of lending money and the other financial transactions they're involved in.
Lawyers ensure that banks have as many legal protections as possible when they enter into these transactions, and also advise them on any legal issues that might arise during the lifetime of a loan or other transaction.
Private equity firms
For example: Blackstone, KKR, Terra Firma
Private equity firms use money their clients have invested with them or their own money to buy stakes in or the whole of a company with a view to improving it and making a resale profit.
Law firms advise them on the legal aspects of their relationships with their clients, their purchases, and the financing arrangements they're likely to make to part fund their purchases.
For example: Allianz, Aon, Aviva
Insurers appoint law firms to advise them on insurance agreements, the settlement of claims and on disputes with policyholders.
Insurance lawyers may also advise on insurance regulation.
Lawyers, especially ones at large commercial firms, primarily advise governments on the legal aspects of raising money, usually done through issuing bonds (tradeable slices of debt).
They also advise them on making investments - for example, in national infrastructure projects.
Law firms assist individuals as well as corporates and other organisations.
Larger commercial firms will concentrate on giving advice to high net worth individuals on the legal aspects of their tax or investment arrangements, while smaller firms might also advise on privacy law and family law.
Many law firms offer their legal services free of charge to charities, community organisations and individuals, which is known as pro bono work (short for "pro bono publico", meaning "for the public good").
Pro bono work provides deserving organisations and individuals, who might not otherwise be able to afford it, with the chance to get specialist legal advice.