Do you know your ltd from your plc – or a hostile takeover from a friendly one? All businesses and companies (yes, there’s a difference!) must follow certain principles and legal guidelines or they risk breaking the law. Yet the administration behind setting up and running a business can be complex and downright confusing. There are specialist terms, lots of forms to fill in and plenty of rules and regulations – often dubbed ‘red tape’ – that must be adhered to. But scratch a little deeper, and the intricacies of British and international company law are fascinating areas to study. A company law course will teach you exactly why the forms are there and what the jargon means. So that the difference between a community interest company and a charity makes sense, while the processes behind a company going from limited to public become clear.
Is it for me?
While anybody with an interest in business and legal affairs will appreciate studying company law, these courses tend to be aimed at business people, legal secretaries and accountants. Business people who are ‘owner-managers’ of their firm, may study this type of law to help them run their business better – and maybe even save money on legal fees. Meanwhile, legal secretaries – or those who wish to work in a legal firm – may study company law to give their CVs a boost. Similarly, for accountants, studying company law can equip them with a deeper, more rounded knowledge.
Legal secretary courses
Law firms employ legal secretaries to help with the day-to-day running of the firm, and to help lawyers with administrative tasks. And just as most lawyers specialise in a type of law, such as company law, legal secretaries in that department will have specialist training too. If you’re interested in working in the legal profession, but you don’t want to train as a lawyer, studying a company law legal secretary course could be a great way into the industry. These are usually short training courses that allow students to study at their own pace.
Advanced courses and professional qualifications
There are many benefits from studying an advanced company law course, and these will vary depending on the course you choose. Courses are available at HNC/HND, undergraduate and postgraduate level. Choosing one of these courses over a shorter course will provide you with a deeper and broader understanding of British company law and, often, international company law also.
The areas covered can include:
· Research methods – how to approach legal study and how to use Companies House
· The history behind company law – the historical evolution of British company law and its fundamental concepts
· Sources of company law (what makes law): statutes, statutory instruments, case law, and EU company law directives
· Types of companies and the differences between them: unlimited and limited companies; private and public companies; small and medium companies; quoted companies
· Complex company structures: holding companies, subsidiaries and associate companies
· How to register a company, the key documents created and the types of share capital: authorized, issued, equity, preference, convertible
· Company decision takers: the duties and powers of directors, other company officers and shareholders
· Corporate reporting and disclosure: Annual report and accounts – contents and layout
· Corporate crimes and dangers and the dissolving of companies
· Fraud, false accounting, unlawful trading, insider dealing
· Signs that a company may be in trouble and the disqualification of directors and DTI inspections
· Voluntary winding-up, insolvency, bankruptcy, liquidation
· Radical reform and the 2006 Companies Act
· Commercial law and international trade law
What happens next?
Once you’ve completed your course you can start looking for work in the legal sector as a legal secretary or continue with your existing career – but better qualified and with a solid grounding in company law. Some people choose to continue with their studies and go on to study for a law degree.
Three of our favourite TV shows about law
The Good Wife
With award-winning film producer and director Ridly Scott currently the executive producer – this legal and political drama is a current must-watch for budding legal professionals.
Law & Order
First premiered in 1990, and filmed in New York, this legal drama is still popular today! Many of the crimes and plots are based on real life cases and the show is a firm favourite with lawyers and non-lawyers alike. In fact, Law & Order is now a full-blown franchise that includes video games and international adaptations.
Starring Calister Flockhart and Lucy Liu, this surreal legal comedy-drama was an instant hit when it first aired in 2002. Flockhart plays a young lawyer trying to make her way in a fictional legal firm called Cage and Fish – which happens to also employ her childhood sweetheart.
By Rebecca Hobson