Adrian Phillips, Guest Lecture – ‘Life as a Commercial Lawyer’
Adrian Phillips – who is currently the general counsel and risk manager of Valice Trust Company – has been at Brighton University to speak to second year law students about the day-to-day life within a commercial law firm.
After falling into commercial law towards the end of his education, Adrian went on to explain the work he is involved in, and went into some detail as to how commercial law works.
The most notable part of the presentation for me, related to employability skills and advice which Adrian gave. All this advice is highly significant, as Adrian also gets involved in the interviewing processes within his work place. Adrian suggested that:
- In preparation for an interview, you should always do some research on the company – including research upon where they are based, what they do, and what candidates they are looking for
- Always be prepared and never say ‘I don’t mind’ or ‘I don’t know’- companies want to see that you are focussed, committed, and actually care about the company itself
- Everyone will face rejection at times, the best candidates get back up and work hard to get what they want
- Work experience is as important as your degree itself, always keep yourself open for opportunities that might arise
For those of you that feel lost in terms of your future career goals and are not passionate around a particular area yet – do not worry! Adrian is a prime example of achieving success, despite lacking desire for a particular area in law. In his words, don’t give up!
Who is the commercial lawyer?
A commercial lawyer with over 30 years experience, Adrian Phillips started out with a 2:2 at Westminster University. Along with covering the basics of what commercial law is about, and the huge impact this specific area of law has within companies, Adrian provided exceptionally good advice from a potential employer’s perspective. Such advice comes from an impressive collection of experience, from General Counsel at Visa and 441 Company Trust, to currently being Head of Legal at Amadeus.
What is commercial law?
Commercial law are the laws that dictate trade and business, and essentially uses a variety of contract, tort, EU and international law. Depending on who you work for and where, the necessary law will be applied in relation to an agreed jurisdiction. From his time at Amadeus (a Spanish company that facilitates travel companies) Adrian gives us an insight into the need of establishing governing and jurisdiction laws; specifically in relation to contracts he has negotiated with first-hand. An example of this are the conflicts that occurs when deciding what type of law the contract should be governed by. Adrian represented Amadeus and wanted the contract to be governed by Spanish law whilst, the other wished to have the State of Georgia’s law. The application of either would lead to one party being at an advantageous position to the other if the contract fell into dispute. It became evident negotiation is the key to resolving this matter and so, with Adrian’s touch of magic, both parties settled on State of New York Law as the fairest option. A fine example of resolution at its best!
Dot the i’s and cross the t’s
Adrian demonstrated the importance of attention to detail in commercial law with his account of the case Jet2.com Ltd v Blackpool Airport Ltd, Jet2 had a contract with Blackpool Airport Ltd (BAL) in which BAL would use their “best endeavours” to promote Jet2’s low cost services. This involved the use of the airport outside of normal operating hours, causing a substantial loss to BAL. BAL then informed Jet2 that they would no longer remain open for these hours and in such, breached the contract. Due to one solitary lawyer writing the words “best endeavours” in replace of “reasonable endeavours”, it was held that BAL would have to remain open, costing them a substantial loss.
How has the meeting benefitted the students?
Hearing from Adrian was a great opportunity to develop our understanding and discuss the relevant laws and how they would be applicable in the real world. It was also reassuring to see such an accomplished commercial lawyer starting out with a similar background to us. As well as advice, Adrian provided us with a few key words of wisdom from an employer’s perspective:
1) work experience is essential
2) research the company
3) Work out how you will fit into the company
Having such knowledge will be one of the many reasons a potential employer will benefit from having you in their team.
By Sushi Selvakumar and Rob Carr