Commercial awareness is a buzzword that crops up on countless resources offering advice on how to get a training contract. It’s a skill that all commercial law firms seek in their future trainees. Read on for our whistle-stop tour of this crucial topic.

What Is Commercial Awareness?

A simple definition of commercial awareness is being conscious of developments in the business world.

To have commercial awareness skills, you need to understand how and why businesses behave in the way they do. Being able to relate these changes to the legal field is a key indicator of a good solicitor.

What Is Commercial Awareness in Law?

Practising commercial law, unsurprisingly, requires good commercial awareness. You are expected to:

  • Have a firm grasp of your clients’ business
  • Have a wide understanding of the industry in which your client operates
  • Understand how your client interacts and performs compared with direct competitors
  • Have a good understanding of what leads to the success of a client’s business in light of the challenges posed by politics and the world economy

As part of your legal service, your clients will expect you to understand and take into account wider business considerations when working with them.

Having commercial awareness allows commercial law solicitors to demonstrate that they 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.

To impress potential employers, you must invest in developing commercial awareness by showing 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.


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Commercial Awareness Critical For Lawyers

Commercial awareness is important for law firms because they invest a significant amount of money in each trainee solicitor. They therefore want to ensure that the trainees that they recruit have knowledge and understanding of the business world so that they can relate their legal advice to their clients’ 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. This is why a part of your training contract interview and application form will be focused on identifying such awareness.

  • If you’re commercially aware, you will be better placed to advise clients, building client confidence
  • Providing evidence of your knowledge will make you stand out from the crowd when completing CVs and application forms for training contracts and vacation schemes
  • Having relevant knowledge shows that you’re willing to learning and understanding how businesses operate in addition to studying and practising law
  • Being commercially aware will boost your confidence when liaising with clients and experts in the business world

How To Boost Your Commercial Awareness

Commercial awareness skills don’t develop overnight. They will invariably build over time and will continue to do so throughout your legal career as industries and markets diversify and evolve.

In other words, you will never stop learning and developing your knowledge during your training as a lawyer. The important thing at this stage is to expose yourself to as much information as possible.

In order to enhance your commercial awareness, we highly recommend taking advantage of skills sessions and workshops organised by your university or run by various law firms. The University of Law runs regular commercial awareness events, lectures and mock trials.

Clifford Chance offers a series of skills sessions which are designed to help you build your knowledge of the commercial world and stand out in your law firm applications.

Read our guide on how to improve commercial awareness for more tips on expanding your knowledge – and check out our commercial awareness blogs for the latest commercial awareness updates.


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