The LawCareers.Net Handbook 2021

Commercial awareness

• demonstrate a good understanding of current economic conditions and in-depth legal knowledge. Learning more To this end, it is important to focus on the word ‘awareness’, and not mistake it for the word ‘knowledge’. Remember that you are going to be a trainee and are not expected to know everything about the law firm or its clients’ businesses from day one. As we know, commercial awareness for a future lawyer is split into two categories: factors that relate to law firms as businesses themselves and factors that affect the clients for which they work. In the first category, prospective trainees should have at least a basic understanding of the purpose of the Legal Services Act 2007 and a general understanding of what a partnership is and how law firms are traditionally structured. A sense of how legal work and clients are sourced and charged is also helpful. For those keen to work at international law firms, learning about the firm’s network of offices and why it is shaped in this way is essential. This is easier if you have a reasonable grasp of the global economic landscape. What are the BRICS? What is an emerging market? What have been the consequences of the 2008 financial crisis for economies, businesses and regulators? What caused that financial crisis? What have been the consequences of covid-19 for economies, businesses and regulators? Why has austerity been the watchword of the decade in the United Kingdom? Has it been an effective response compared to the approaches taken in other countries? And what about Brexit – how will the legal profession be impacted and how are firms responding? These topics are covered extensively in the mainstreammedia, often in great detail.

Commercial awareness is one of the key skills that law firms look for in future trainees. It means understanding the environment in which the firm and its clients operate, and then using your legal expertise to help both achieve their goals. To succeed in the law, you must demonstrate that you can think in this way. To persuade a recruiter of your commercial awareness, you need to develop a genuine interest in the world around you, especially the business world. Without this, you are unlikely to enjoy a career in commercial law or properly understand what your clients want to achieve. Even if you intend to train as a private client lawyer, you need to be able to speak the language of clients who are themselves business owners. You need to show recruiters that you can be trusted to represent the firm to a client and that you have the potential to develop new client relationships, and perhaps even new legal products and services further down the line. What is it? Commercial awareness means understanding your clients’ businesses and using your legal knowledge to help them to achieve their objectives. Commercially aware candidates also appreciate that the law firms they are applying to are commercial enterprises. Whichever area of law you decide to go into, you must demonstrate that you can help drive your firm’s business forward. You need to reflect that you understand the importance of client relationships and the need for businesses to be cost effective. Make a habit of reading the business and politics sections of a high-quality news source to improve your grasp of the issues. With this in mind, you will need to show that you can: • manage your time effectively; • demonstrate initiative; • work well within a team; • develop strong client relationships; and

Here are some good places to start learning:



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