The LawCareers.Net Handbook 2021

Commercial awareness Commercial awareness boils down to understanding individuals’ or businesses’ motives for acting in the way that they do. If you cannot understand your clients’ motivations, goals and constraints, your advice on how they should act will be worthless. Further, the place you will practise law is a business, whether that’s a multinational corporation or a high-street firm. Your role within it will have a direct relationship to it achieving its goals. How to demonstrate: Experience in the working world will come in handy here, as you are likely to have worked for a company of some sort and experienced how it functions from the inside. Talk about real-life business scenarios in which you have been involved, no matter how junior or peripheral you were. Demonstrate that you have followed commercial and business stories in the press over a protracted period and can comment on why a business or sector is expanding/ contracting/changing. Don’t forget that aspiring lawyers are not expected to be economic experts, but they should have a firm grasp on the business world and the ability to view situations from different angles. Chances are, you will already have many of the above skills and the tough part may be coming up with the evidence to support your claims. Most of the examples above are drawn from the academic and extracurricular field. However, the richest pickings may well come from the work experience you have encountered. So, determine your goal (finding a career in law); take a body of material (you and your life); analyse it against a set of criteria (the skills that employers seek); and present your findings clearly and economically (make an application). Break down your experiences and activities and look for the nuggets of achievement and insight which demonstrate that you have developed these key competency skills.

fixtures, results, pitch allocation and player registration. These are just two examples though – plenty of things require organisation and attention to detail, frommanaging the till behind a bar to taking a stock check. Communication Legal work is all about conveying advice. You must prove that you can listen to what others say and ask of you, and effectively communicate your thoughts and opinions. Expressing yourself articulately to clients and colleagues is all part of the job. How to demonstrate: We all communicate, all the time, so you should not be short of examples; however, look for those where your communication skills made a material difference to a situation. These might include running a campaign (eg, student elections) involving written and oral communication, examples of journalism in which you present complicated ideas simply, or debating and mooting. And don’t forget that a concise and clearly expressed application form is the best evidence of your communication skills. Teamwork and leadership In the law, teams are everything – while there is much solo work to be done, even the lone wolves (eg, top barristers) perform within the context of a team in which everyone contributes to the whole. You must be committed to working this way and, again, you’ve probably done more of this than you think – teamwork is how society functions. How to demonstrate: Remember that we are talking about teamwork and leadership; show where you have taken initiative and led a group, but also show where you have bowed to the will of others. Sports teams are the obvious examples, but any communal activity where different tasks contribute towards a shared goal can be used: orchestras and bands, clubs, university societies, science projects or team debating.


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