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Commercial Awareness

What is it & why does it matter?

Commercial awareness seems to be the quality that all employers want, yet seems difficult to understand, much less attain.  This quote from Penny Cooper & Elizabeth Cruikshank (authors of All You Need to Know About Being a Trainee Solicitor) is a pretty clear definition.

All law firms would say that they want their trainees to be commercially aware both of the business that they are in (selling legal services) and of the businesses that they serve (those of their clients.)

One of the key messages conveyed in just about every guide to commercial awareness I’ve come across is that you can’t mug up on it overnight – understanding a commercial issue like Alternative Business Structures takes time. Tied to that is the expectation that what you choose to write about should be customised for each application, just as a cover letter or CV should be.

When you’re doing background research for an application, don’t just look at the website, check if they have a blog. If they choose to write about an issue, it’s central to their business aims.  For example Mischcon de Raya publish online briefings several times a week, Pinsent Masons run the legal information channel Out-Law and Freshfields Digital looks at everything from Bitcoin to Big Data.

Guides for undergraduates

There is a huge amount of information out there on Commercial Awareness, so here are a just a few resources to follow up if you want to find out more.

Current awareness

Some ideas on how to stay up to date quickly, but effectively.

An excellent starting point is to sign up to ‘The Brief’ – a free newsletter emailed daily by The Times. [Kyle Squire, Hull alumnus 2012, now Pupil Barrister with 5 Pump Court Chambers]


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