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Global Practice Area Definitions

Below are the legal practice area definitions and regional variations used by Chambers to rank lawyers and law firms in the Global Guide.


The Chambers Agribusiness research encompasses a broad range of legal, financial and transactional support for agricultural projects, representing a wide spectrum of clients. Firms may represent project developers, investors and financial institutions as well as other stakeholders from the private and public sectors, and offer expertise in one or multiple key agribusiness markets. 

The practice includes rural real estate due diligence, acquisitions and leasing, sector-specific M&A, environment law and increasingly, IP and technology relating to agri-tech products and services.  

The practice also covers international trade matters including pre-export financing, import and export licences and compliance with international trade regulations. Firms may also cover insurance, contracts, tax, employment, regulations and general corporate advice and private client concerns. 

Artificial Intelligence

Our Artificial Intelligence table identifies the leading professional advisers to the global AI market. This category covers those individuals who provide advisory and governance services for the use of AI. These issues include but are not limited to, data privacy, copyright, regulatory compliance, and responsible usage policies. Contentious matters are also included, such as liability disputes and intellectual property infringements.

Banking & Finance

The Global-Wide Banking & Finance section of Chambers research is a recognition of the firms adept at advising on various elements of a broad range of cross-border banking transactions, which includes advice to both borrower and lender clients.  

 The following topics are included: 

·       Acquisition finance: Transactions involving arranging finance for acquisitions acting for either the lender or the borrower. 

·       General bank lending: Syndicated lending, structured finance, leveraged finance. 

·       Project finance: Financing of infrastructure and industrial projects. Often arranged on a non-recourse loan basis. See also equipment finance and leasing. 

·       Refinancing: The refinancing and restructuring of existing loans and debtor in possession financing is also included.


Islamic Finance 

Acknowledging the specialist expertise for Islamic finance, there is a separate subtable showcasing the firms who provide cross-border expertise in this area. This section encompasses Sharia-compliant work such as acquisitions, forming funds to invest in real estate and commercial properties, as well as Sukuk issuances. 


Business & Human Rights

Business & Human Rights covers the responsibility bestowed upon large international corporations to carry out their operations in accordance with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. There is currently legislation in various countries to reinforce this initiative, including the UK Modern Slavery Act, the French Duty of Vigilance laws, the Australian Modern Slavery Act, and the Dutch Child Labour Due Diligence Law. There are similar laws set to be introduced in Germany, Canada, and many other countries. Under these laws, the parent companies are pressed to conduct due diligence reports of all their subsidiaries, as they are now technically able to be sued in their headquartered country for its actions abroad.

A typical example of a client in this section is a large-scale mining company, with a host of subsidiary companies operating mines in Africa. Should one of these subsidiaries be responsible for an environmental or human rights-related violation, the central question is put forward: does the parent company, typically headquartered elsewhere, have a duty of care for the actions of this indirect subsidiary? The growing answer in the world is that it does.

In 2019, there was a landmark decision in the UK Supreme Court, known simply as Vedanta, in which it was deemed that the multinational parent company did owe a duty of care to the claimants. Advice and litigation support is expected to skyrocket henceforth.

The lawyers ranked in this section are essentially experts in these laws and a wide range of other international human rights guidelines. They typically advise these large, multinational companies on: human rights due diligence-reporting; constructing internal human rights policies and grievance mechanisms to pay victims; responding to allegations and litigation claims; and conducting human rights impact assessments in high-risk countries, to name the main areas.

Their roster of clients does extend beyond mining companies, though those are usually the most affected. Others include corporations in the technology, food production and consumer products sectors - essentially any company big enough to have a complex, international supply chain. The key players in the market are also likely to be close counsel to banks and investors.

This area of law is still very much in its infancy and changing rapidly with each passing year. Therefore, it is still quite important to not only advise clients in this space, but also push for the development of it in more external capacities. Most of the lawyers ranked here have played a very important role in the development of laws and standards, working with government, the UN, and research organisations and NGOs. As such, a highly ranked firm or lawyer is expected to be both a practical business counsel on these issues and a 'thought leader', who is sought out in non-client capacities.


Capital Markets

Global-Wide Capital Markets research focusses on the various areas of specialism that fall within the wider capital markets space, recognising the firms adept in assisting clients in cross-border issuances, listings and other transactions. The Global-Wide Capital Markets tables are split into four key pillars: Equity; Debt; High-Yield Products; and Structured Finance, Securitisation & Derivatives. 


Equity Capital Markets 

Advice on equity offerings transactions such as IPOs, follow-on offerings, right offerings, capital increases, ADR / GDR offerings, accelerated bookbuilts and block trades. 


Debt Capital Markets 

Investment grade debt offerings (stand alone bond issues, MTN programs, Commercial Paper programmes); equity-linked offerings (regulatory capital, convertibles and exchangeable offerings) and; High Yield debt offerings. 


High-Yield Products 

Covers advice on a full range of issues relating to non-investment-grade corporate bonds. 


Structured finance, Securitisation & Derivatives 

Structured finance: Encompasses CDOs (both cash and synthetic); repackagings; and hybrid synthetic and structured note products. 


Securitisation: Covers the entire range asset classes, including: commercial loans; derivatives exposure; bonds and corporate debt; project cash flows; trade receivables; credit card and trade receivables; commercial and residential mortgages; life insurance and annuities; auto loans. 


Derivatives: Includes the regulatory and transactional legal advice regarding derivatives products such as: Exchange-traded derivatives; OTC derivatives; Securitised derivatives; Interest rate, currency, equity, credit and commodity-linked products


Climate Change

The Chambers Climate Change research looks at an increasingly important area, recognising firms who advise clients on a range of compliance, regulatory, transactional and contentious matters as they relate to climate change, in both domestic and international contexts. 

A particularly significant area concerns matters of emissions trading, which includes assisting companies in adhering to carbon regulations such as the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) and the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme. 

The section also covers the legal issues relating to renewable and low carbon projects, which includes assisting with the development and financial issues attached to these ventures. 

In addition, featured practices are also likely to advise traditional marketplace clients on the risks and investment opportunities concerning climate change in corporate transactions, key issues of which include energy efficiency, supply chain issues, climate change adaptation and mitigation, due diligence and risk assessment. 


The Global-wide Corporate/M&A  Chambers research covers the elements of law related to various types of corporate and M&A transactions, with particular interest in firms’ ability to advise clients in multi-jurisdictional mandates. 

Firms who feature in this table excel in cross-border deals including company acquisitions, dispositions and related financing arrangements, capitalisations, entity selection and formation, operating and partnership agreements, securities and governance matters. Also covers those transactions designed to help restructuring within companies and their subsidiaries by change of ownership. This section also recognises the expertise required to assist clients with large scale private equity buyouts. 


Corporate Investigations/Anti-Corruption

The Global-Wide Corporate Investigations/Anti-Corruption section ranks firms and individuals involved in advising management on, and compliance with, investigations concerning white-collar crime, anti-corruption legislation and international sanctions. Firms evidence their strength on an international stage by both advising on preventative measures as well as undertaking internal and external investigations. Emphasis is placed on showing breadth and strength across a firm's network, providing a global platform to manage individual demands from separate jurisdictions' as well as understanding the interaction with international requirements.

Work submitted will often demonstrate a firm's capabilities managing the implementation of global compliance strategies for multi-national clients to conducting investigations involving a range of issues, including insider trading, antitrust issues, corruption allegations and FCPA breaches.


The Global-Wide Competition/Antitrust practice area focuses on reflecting those firms in the market whose international strength sees them handling major global mandates concerning anti-competitive behaviour (monopoly) and unfair business practices. Leading firms are expected to demonstrate strong teams in key commercial hubs across the globe to facilitate intra-office collaboration on European, US and Asia-Pacific regulations derived from competition/antitrust legislation. Firms should have experience working closely with competition authorities including the European Commission, US Competition authorities, Competition Market Authority as well as Fair Trade Commissions across the globe.

Unlike the coverage provided in some national guides, this Global-Wide section considers firms' capabilities across both transactional and contentious sides of the market including; cartel and other government investigations, antitrust litigation, M&A-related competition work, advice and implementation of competition strategies for businesses

Data Protection

Global-wide Data Protection covers all aspects of law surrounding the control of information by public and private sector bodies. Law firms featured in this section will typically advise on matters such as cross-border data transfers, responses to international data breaches, GDPR and other privacy regulation. Practice groups ranked in this section may offer clients specialist expertise of cutting-edge technologies, including cloud computing, blockchain and artificial intelligence, as well as sector-specific data and cybersecurity knowledge.

Dispute Resolution

Global-wide Dispute Resolution and Litigation coverage includes the full course of a dispute such as pre-trial negotiations, documentation and preparation for trial, summary judgement motions, trial, appeals and enforcement proceedings.

There are two main types of litigation: commercial disputes before civil courts, and white-collar crime, including government investigations. Alternative dispute resolution, involving non-court mediation is also featured. Many commercial contracts contain arbitration clauses, which are handled by commercial litigators.

Environmental & Social Governance (ESG)

Our ESG Risk research encompasses a broad range of advisory mandates to major corporates on their responsibilities and obligations with respect to the environment, society and their own corporate governance. Prominent areas of activity within this section include carbon neutrality and climate change litigation, sustainable finance, supply chain analysis and responses to socio-cultural developments such as allegations of sexual abuse and of discrimination on the basis of race, gender or sexual orientation. Highly ranked firms will be able to act across the whole scope of these activities, including analysing existing policies and structures for potential risk exposures, and responding to ESG crises affecting clients.


Franchising includes those acting for Franchisees and Franchisors and covers both transactional and contentious work. On the non-contentious side, this includes setting up a franchise arrangement, expanding a system and closing down arrangements. Disputes arising from the sector such as disputed closing down of a system or contractual obligations.


Insurance Non-Contentious

The Insurance Non-Contentious section of Chambers research incorporates transactional and regulatory work relating to the insurance industry. Firms featured will handle major insurance M&A deals, restructuring, business transfers and other regulatory matters. These ranked practices may act for insurers, reinsurers, brokers and underwriters.

Insurance Contentious

Insurance: Contentious covers dispute resolution relating to the insurance industry. The law firms included in this section represent insurers, reinsurers and/or policyholders. This area of research typically covers complex and high value claims that may be international in scope. Clients seeking advice on all major lines of business will find internationally recognised firms which excel in both the representation of insurers and insureds.

International Arbitration

The International Arbitration practice area continues to be a major part of Chambers’ Global research. Incorporating both general commercial and investment arbitration matters, firms and individuals featured in this section are expected to evidence the handling of a range of international disputes in front of sole arbitrators and arbitration panels in key arbitral centres around the world including London, Geneva, Singapore, Hong Kong and New York. Key considerations include the ability to advise on sophisticated commercial arbitration governed by ICC (International Chamber of Commerce), ICSID (International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes) and UNCITRAL (United Nations Commission on International Trade Law) rules.

Another major element the Arbitration (International) rankings is designed to capture is clear expertise in investment arbitration representing corporates, investors, states or state-owned entities under international investment agreements including ISDS (Investor-State Dispute Settlements) and BIT (Bilateral Investment Treaty) cases.

International Trade/WTO

The International Trade/WTO section covers classic trade cases such as anti-dumping, countervailing duties, export control and other customs/tariff classifications and regulatory work. The practice area also includes issues such as WTO and other treaty-based trade and investment disputes, bilateral and multilateral trade negotiations, and market access issues.

Investment Funds

This section recognises firms with demonstrable expertise in Private Equity: Fund Formation, and Hedge Funds, on a global level.


Private Equity: Fund Formation
The entirety of private equity sponsor-side fund formation work, with the exception of venture capital funds, is covered in this subsection. Funds covered include, but are not limited to; buyout, secondaries, hybrid and debt funds. The formation of sector-focused funds, such as those investing in real estate and infrastructure, is also covered here.


Hedge Funds
This subsection covers hedge fund formation and launches, spinouts, strategic acquisitions, distressed debt investments and restructurings.

Leading Law Firm Networks

In this section we focus on independent law firm networks. The chief criterion, is that the member firms are independent of each other and any controlling entity. For the most part, the network should exist without relying on a central law firm. A strong law firm network positions itself as a cost-effective alternative to an international law firm with many international branches. If effective, the network should help members generate cross-referral work, and that clients benefit from unified solutions when work crosses borders.

A law firm network's ranking in this section, is contingent on the rankings, and the ranking strength, of its member firms across the various Chambers Guides.

Aside from an analysis of the data, the research process involves extended interviews with a selected group of network representatives, and calls with referees the network provides.

Life Sciences

Chambers’ Global-wide Life Sciences research includes international law firms that handle a broad spectrum of matters relating to the life sciences and pharmaceutical industry. The firms featured may handle certain elements of, or all stages of a product’s life-cycle. Transactional work covered in this section includes M&A involving life sciences entities, licensing and collaboration agreements, capital raising and IPO’s. A wide range of regulatory mandates are also covered, such as those relating to clinical trials, labelling and market authorisations. Contentious proceedings relating to the life sciences space are also covered in this section, including disputes relating to product liability and medical devices. A number of the firms that feature also offer intellectual property and patent litigation capabilities. The section incorporates the representation of big pharma, early stage companies, medical device manufacturers and biotech clients.


Projects & Energy

Projects & Energy covers a broad range of matters relating to the energy sector and large-scale infrastructure projects. The firms featured frequently operate internationally, and represent sponsors, lenders, project originators, banks and other stakeholders. This area of research encompasses transactional, regulatory and contentious advice associated with all areas of energy and infrastructure developments. Firms included in this section may also offer clients expertise in connection with energy and projects-related litigation and arbitration. In addition to this section, Chambers Global provides specific sub-sections of research relating to mining and minerals, oil and gas and power.


Projects & Energy: Mining & Minerals

Projects & Energy: Mining & Minerals includes internationally recognised firms that specialise in matters relating to mining and minerals exploration, development and production agreements, project finance, taxation and other financing arrangements. Contentious proceedings relating to mining and natural resources are also covered by this section. 


Projects & Energy: Oil & Gas

Projects & Energy: Oil & Gas focuses on all upstream and downstream work including exploration, infrastructure and pipeline developments and service contracts, royalties, licensing and operation agreements. M&A, capital raising and tax issues are also covered, as well as regulatory and contentious mandates.


Projects & Energy: Power

Projects & Energy: Power includes firms who advise on the development, financing and permitting of energy projects, these may include electric, coal, oil & gas-fired, nuclear and hydro-electric plants. Firms included may also advise on renewable energy matters, including the financing, development and regulatory issues relating to wind and wave power, solar, biomass and geothermal energy generation, as well as advice on clean energy regulations.

Public International Law

Another key practice area for the Global Guide, Public International Law covers inter-state disputes such as those before the International Court of Justice, the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea and the International Criminal Court. Firms and individuals recognized in this section will have expertise on a wide range of state-to-state disputes, international humanitarian law as well as sovereign immunity, sanctions and boundary rights.  
Investment arbitration is now found solely under the Arbitration (International) practice area.


The Global-wide Restructuring/Insolvency section of Chambers research is aimed at reflecting expertise in corporate bankruptcy and restructuring and the legal processes related to distressed businesses, which can either be reorganised or go into liquidation. 

Firms in this table expertly assist, in a cross-border context, clients such as corporate debtors, investors and asset purchasers, secured and unsecured creditors and creditors' committees, bondholders, insurers, directors of distressed companies and any other interested parties in corporate restructurings, bankruptcy proceedings. 

In addition to transactional work, bankruptcy also covers any related litigation, such as disputes between such parties in connection with distressed companies and Chapter 11 and Chapter 7 processes. 


The Global-Wide Tax practice area covers a broad range of both transactional and contentious tax matters. Top firms recognised here are expected to demonstrate the capability to support clients with the implementation of major global tax transactions including tax structuring, transfer pricing and indirect tax matters concerning jurisdictions across the US, Asia and Europe. Further proficiency in managing international tax disputes and investigations is a key consideration for this practice area, especially concerning IRS examinations, tax shelter and evasion investigations.


The Chambers Global-wide TMT research covers a broad spectrum of matters relating to the technology, media and communication industries. The firms that feature operate internationally, and may provide advice to tech-oriented clients such as IT entities, social media companies, broadcasters, startups and gaming and entertainment companies or clients from other industry sectors seeking advice in relation to TMT-related matters. This area of research covers the full spectrum of transactional and contractual mandates relating to the technology, media and communications spheres, including telecoms and technology infrastructure projects.  A wide range of regulatory matters are covered in this section, these issues might be government-sponsored inquiries, investigations or compliance proceedings. Dispute resolution, both litigation and arbitration is covered by the section, and many firms that feature offer clients intellectual property expertise, in relation to trademark, copyright and patent issues. Many of the law firms included display specialist expertise in cutting-edge fields, such as fintech, artificial intelligence, blockchain, internet of things and cybersecurity.

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