The LawCareers.Net Handbook 2021

Commercial awareness

New experiences In addition to looking at what you have done already, you may want to increase your commercial awareness by undertaking some useful employment while you study or after you have finished your degree. The first step is to assess yourself. Consider the area of law that you wish to practise, the type of firm you want to work in and any skills you may be lacking. Next, work out where you could gain the skills that may be relevant to your firm of choice. For example, if you are interested in banking or corporate finance, then consider gaining experience in a corporate setting (eg, an accountancy firm or tax office). If you want to go into the area of advertising and marketing law, finding some general work experience in the advertising industry will enhance your knowledge of how this sector works and fits together. Commercial thinking can be developed in any employment setting, particularly if your role allows you access to the rationale for decisions made by your employer. For example, in the publishing industry, you might learn about the challenges faced by print media in light of the growth of online journalism. If you work in retail, logistics or warehousing during your holidays, you could develop an understanding of, say, the seasonality of demand or just-in-time purchasing principles. Another option is to consider the types of client that you might be dealing with in a corporate law firm and try to gain some experience with those (eg, in a bank or financial institution). If you can gain insight into how potential clients run their businesses, as well as a knowledge of how to fulfil a client’s expectations, this will be a strong selling point at interview. Alternatively, think about how a corporate firm is run and the skills you would need to work there (ie, working on large, complex deals as part of a large team). Use this basic idea to think laterally

Ultimately, a last-minute skim of the Financial Times before your interview will be of limited use. You should set yourself a routine and stick to it, so that you can develop a genuine interest and a knack for spotting themes and trends. You will eventually be able to see things from a businessperson’s perspective and develop a bigger-picture understanding of the impact of events. In short, you will adopt the media habits of a good legal professional before you become one. Past experiences Another way of assessing your commercial awareness is to think about what you already know. Consider your employment history and see whether you can identify any previous examples of commercial work experience. For example, have you worked in a service environment (eg, a shop or bar), interacting with customers or clients? Did you gain insight into how the business was run? Have you ever undertaken a project or devised a solution to a business problem? Was there a challenge that you had to overcome? It is not only your employment history that counts as commercial work experience. Positions of responsibility can also demonstrate the necessary skills. Did you belong to any societies at university and if so, what was your role? For example, if you were the treasurer of a society, this can be used to demonstrate your ability tomanage finances and budgets. Not-for-profit work can also demonstrate commercial awareness as, depending on your role, you may have been involved in promoting events or persuading companies to sponsor you or provide free products. These activities help to show that you understand basic business processes. Working in the family business or setting up and managing your own business (including online) can all point to commercial nous, as there is no better way to understand the fundamentals of a business than by running one yourself.



Made with FlippingBook - professional solution for displaying marketing and sales documents online