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What is Business and Commercial Law?

Business law and commercial law are areas of legal practice with many overlapping issues. Most attorneys who practice one will also practice the other. Small business owners and independent contractors should consult business law attorneys to help set up their business structure according to state and local laws.

Business and Commercial Law

Commercial law focuses on the sale and distribution of goods and transaction financing. Business law focuses on the legal needs of forming a company and property issues such as leasing office space. A business that sells products will need a lawyer with experience in both fields.

Corporate law is a subspeciality of commercial law and focuses on the legal matters of large corporations, such as mergers and acquisitions.

State and federal law regulate business transactions. The federal government governs investments, workplace safety and employment laws, and environmental protections. States can add to these laws. States impose licensing requirements and rules for forming and running a business.

The Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) is a model rule about the sales of goods. It is not a law. It is a set of guidelines on how businesses must make contracts to sell and transfer tangible goods. The UCC helps streamline business dealings between business entities in different states. Each state can make its own modifications to the laws as it sees fit. For this reason, hiring legal counsel familiar with your state's version of the UCC is important.

Terms to Know

  • Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) — A uniform law adopted in some form by all states that governs sales of goods and related issues, such as secured transactions and negotiable instruments
  • Negotiable instrument — A transferrable document that guarantees payment of a specific sum of money to a payee, usually the one named in the document
  • Merger — The act of two companies becoming a single business entity
  • Acquisition — Getting a controlling interest in a company or business entity. Often part of a merger.
  • Secured transaction — A loan or other transaction where the lender gets an interest in collateral the borrower provides. The lender can take the collateral if the borrower defaults on the loan.
  • Security — Collateral and related documentation provided to make sure that debtors fulfill debt obligations

For more legal definitions, visit the FindLaw Legal Dictionary.

Other Considerations When Hiring a Business and Commercial Lawyer

Each industry has its own business law issues. A business attorney with experience in your industry can give you legal help that also considers business ethics and industry practices.

Many business owners and managers only hire an attorney when it is too late for the attorney to be much help. Negotiating the sales or transfer of goods without knowing the legal requirements under their state's version of the UCC can lead to canceled contracts, lost profits, and legal penalties. Instead of trying to navigate legal issues on their own, business owners should consult a commercial law attorney before starting contract negotiations to protect their legal rights.

Related Practice Areas

  • Starting a Business. Get legal advice for startups, including business formation, real estate, and hiring employees.
  • Business Operations. A business lawyer can help with contract disputes, marketing and advertising, and business litigation.
  • Intellectual Property. One of the fastest-growing areas of commerce with complex legal problems. Any tech business needs the right lawyer for patent applications and copyright issues.

You Don't Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer's Help

commercial law attorney can help protect your rights and review your options if facing a business or commercial law issue.

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