Commercial law is about the movement of items in commerce, by whatever means—buying, selling, leasing, licensing, or granting security interests. It is, colloquially, “the law of stuff”—goods, services, real estate, and intangible and intellectual property. Commercial transactions can be B2B (business to business), B2C (business to consumer), or C2C (consumer to consumer).
Commercial lawyers customarily practice in a law firm or “in-house” in a company. Their focus may be on litigation, or it may be on transactions, as they draft documents, advise clients, and put together deals. Other lawyers also use commercial law to serve their clients. For instance, an intellectual property (IP) attorney often must solve commercial law issues in the course of licensing transactions or disputes, and commercial law provides valuable analogies for IP transactions. A legal aid attorney encounters commercial law issues while assisting low-income clients in disputes against businesses. An attorney in the consumer-protection division of the attorney general’s office must have a good grasp of commercial law and its interface with consumer protection statutes.
Commercial law is a close cousin to business-entity law; both are in the family of “business law.” But business entity law focuses instead on which kind of legal entity a business decides to be (corporation, partnership, LLP, LLC, sole proprietorship) and how that business entity functions (stocks, bonds, taxes, shareholder rights, officer’s obligations, etc.). These issues only tangentially affect commercial law, usually when the business runs into severe financial problems or encounters a dramatic change in the law.