Put simply, commercial awareness is staying up-to-date with developments in the business world. In order to be commercially aware, you need to understand the way in which businesses behave and why.
Commercial Awareness in the Legal Context
In a legal context, commercial awareness can be summed up broadly as an active interest in business affairs and, more specifically, in the business interests of the legal industry and the law firm that you are applying to join.
You need to be able to demonstrate that you are aware of the latest business developments, their impact on the legal industry and the possible opportunities that they could create for a law firm.
Commercial Awareness Will Come Up in Both Your Applications and Interviews
Law firms frequently ask interviewees to discuss a recent news story and its broader implications for the UK economy. They may even refer to a specific development and ask for your opinion.
It is therefore essential that in the weeks leading up to your interview you build up a pool of topics that genuinely interest you and which you believe are relevant to the legal industry.
You Can Develop Your Commercial Awareness Through Student Subscriptions
While the phrase ‘commercial awareness’ can seem daunting to a law student that has never studied economics, it does not need to be.
A student subscription to the Financial Times or The Economist is a really handy way of making sure that you keep up-to-date with the latest developments in the business world and their impact on the global economy.
Always Consider the Impact News Stories Will Have on the Legal Industry
Law firms are looking for analytical thinkers who can help their firm stay ahead of the curve. It is therefore important that you consider the way in which the latest business developments are going to impact upon the legal industry, and opportunities and challenges that this could create.
Always Consider These News Stories in the Context of Particular Law Firms
When considering the impact that a news story might have on the legal industry, you also need to go one step further and consider the individual effect that it will have on the law firm that you are applying to.
Research the firm’s legal expertise, its identity, its clients, their past and current cases and future plans for expansion. In this way, you can begin to understand its business and aims and ultimately demonstrate this knowledge to your interviewers.
This research will also enable you to think about current business developments, the impact that they will have on the law firm and any opportunities that they might create for the firm’s different legal departments.
Why is Commercial Awareness Important?
Law firms invest a significant amount of money in each trainee. They therefore want to ensure that the trainees that they recruit can communicate effectively and relate their legal advice to their clients’ individual interests.
Testing candidates’ commercial awareness is a key way of ensuring that future trainees will be able to place legal advice in the context of a client’s needs.
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