Commercial vs High Street

Commercial vs High Street

Many providers offer two routes through the LPC: the Commercial route and the High Street route. The two options are intended to allow students to study the core practice areas with more specific areas of study adapted for the section of the legal market they intend to enter. Your selection may also impact the elective choice available to you in Term 2.

My provider was too small to offer such a choice. My core modules favoured the High Street direction but as I now work for a commercial firm, I can see the benefit of the distinction. Learning the core modules tailored to your intended career means what you learn is more likely to be relevant when you start your training contract.

It may be that you will only be able to study the electives you are interested in on one route.

Some providers will require the choice before you start, others will allow you to select within the induction period. So, how to choose? Some of you will already know which option you are heading down; legal aid lawyers will head towards the High Street route whereas those aiming for the City will go straight for the Commercial option. It will also be easy if you already have a training contract, as your firm is likely to lend itself to a particular route. For those of you where the option isn’t so obvious, hopefully the following will help you decide.

First of all, check the electives available. It may be that you will only be able to study the electives you are interested in on one route. If so, that will be an easy decision. If they are split between the two, you may have to choose which is more important to you. If you don’t have a training contract, be careful when selecting electives: for example, if you go for all specialist litigation options but then apply to a corporate firm, they will question your choices.

If your electives don’t help you select a route, you will need to seriously consider what type of firm you want to work for. Although choosing one route over another won’t prevent you working for the other type of firm getting it right will definitely help you.

The Commercial route will focus on acting for a business or a corporate entity. It will require an appreciation of business, as much of the advice you will give will have a commercial edge. The elements of each core practice area will involve something within the business sphere, e.g. selling commercial property, business leases, selling shares in a company, corporate insolvency. This element will be relevant for larger firms, or firms with a significant commercial property element.

This route will be essential for those wishing to work for a High Street firm or do work that is predominantly legal aid

The High Street route will lean towards the client as an individual. There may be more of an emphasis on client management skills and legal aid. High Street elements of the core practice areas might be: selling property subject to a mortgage, individual insolvency, deeds of gift, starting small businesses and partnerships. This route will be essential for those wishing to work for a High Street firm or do work that is predominantly legal aid. High Street law requires specific skills and knowledge that you can learn on the job, but the nature of High Street training contracts is such that extra knowledge at this stage will really help you.

If you are looking to become a private client lawyer, you will need to look really closely at the elements of each route. It is likely that the High Street route may be more relevant, but make sure: some private client firms specialise in high net worth individuals, in which case some of the commercial elements may also be relevant.

Although the route you take will assist you in your career, it is not the end of the world should you realise you have gone down the wrong one. If anything, it is good that you have realised at this stage, rather than during your training contract that it is not what you want to do. Either option will cover the basics you need and will definitely be interesting!

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