Law solicitors
Capital markets lawyer

Capital markets law: area of practice

Capital markets lawyers typically advise companies and banks raising money in the international capital markets.

For any business, obtaining credit can be its lifeblood: it is often the key means by which a business can finance expansion. Capital markets lawyers advise banks and other companies on how to raise funding in the financial markets.

A capital markets practice area is closely linked to a firm’s banking and finance department. The banking team typically acts for banks lending to companies – or, indeed, companies borrowing from banks. Capital markets lawyers, on the other hand, typically advise companies and banks raising money in the international capital markets. Clients can raise capital markets finance in various ways including through issuing shares or bonds. A privately owned company might, for example, issue shares into the international markets; by listing its shares on a stock exchange, the company can attract investors to enable it to grow its business. Other companies may simply wish to borrow money in the international capital markets and do so by issuing bonds sometimes, but not necessarily, secured on the company’s assets.

A typical transaction can take anything from a few weeks to a few months to complete and can entail periods of very intensive work for the lawyers, especially towards the closing of the transaction.

Capital markets lawyers regularly work on international transactions

The size of the team varies from transaction to transaction, sometimes just comprising a small team made up of a partner, associate and trainee solicitor but on other transactions entailing a large team of partners, associates and trainees in numerous different practice areas and jurisdictions. Capital markets lawyers regularly work on cross-border transactions with lawyers from other jurisdictions. Lawyers are often required to travel – whether for negotiation meetings, due diligence exercises or completion meetings.

For many lawyers the appeal of working in capital markets lies in the great variety of types of interesting transactions involving businesses in many different industries and jurisdictions. The teamwork required in advising clients on capital markets transactions also appeals to many lawyers. For other lawyers the frequently technical nature of the work is an attractive feature. For example the greatly increased level of regulation since the start of the financial crisis means that it is more important than ever for lawyers to be abreast of the law and to be able to apply the law to the issues confronting their clients.

How much responsibility are trainee solicitors given?

Trainees are often requested to draft agreements and research particular points of law. There are significant opportunities for early responsibility and for taking part in client meetings.

The types of law capital markets solicitors use in their job

  • Contract.
  • Financial regulatory.
  • Tax.
  • European. 

Good capital markets solicitors have…

  • Commitment.
  • Intellectual rigour and energy.
  • The willingness to take the initiative.
  • A strong interest in law and the ability to apply it. 

Simeon Radcliff is a partner in the capital markets group at Clifford Chance LLP. He studied law at the University of Glasgow.