Whether you want to be a solicitor or barrister (yes, it is relevant to the Bar also!) ‘Commercial Awareness’ or “awareness of commerciality” (Anup Vithlani, Trowers & Hamlins, Graduate Recruitment Manager) is crucial to successful applications and interviews.   The links on this page will take you to articles and publications which will help you understand what firms mean when they say they want you to have commercial awareness and how you can demonstrate it to them.

What is commercial awareness?

Here’s a great introduction from LawCareers.Net and another from the Lex:  http://www.lex100.com/index.php/content/144-gaining-commercial-awareness

INTERCULTURAL AWARENESS

Intercultural awareness is also very important in law and business.   In particular, knowing how to act in a culturally professional manner with clients in/from other countries can be very important to sealing a deal.   Whilst many of you will have intercultural experiences (a year abroad, living abroad, friends from other countries etc.) you need to reflect on how those experiences have contributed to your understanding of people, culture, language and communication.

Kwintessential provides a free resource to specific countries covering business and cultural etiquette at  http://www.kwintessential.co.uk/resources/guides/

HOW TO BUILD UP YOUR COMMERCIAL AWARENESS

  • The Media – reading, watching & listening –  Basically you need to keep up with the PEST news – Politics, Economics, Society & Technology. There are many resources listed below.
  • Network face to face – Don’t be afraid.   Go to events where professionals will be i.e. on campus talks, organisations open days etc.   Networking is just talking….it’s not hard.  But you do need to have focus – ask people about how they got into their jobs, what tips do they have etc.
  • Network electronically – use Linked In as your professional platform (have a good photo!  Important – do have a photo!)  ‘Follow’ the firms/organisations you are potentially interested in.   Look for people in those firms who you may have a link with (an easy link is that they may be alumni of Kent!).  When asking to ‘connect’ always send a personal message that gives an idea of what you are seeking and why you have selected this person to connect with.
  • Join professional bodies and attend events – There are so many legal societies from the Law Society to Inns of Court to societies with a specific interest be it diversity or an area of law.   Many societies will have networking or learning events and some offer support such as mentoring. .

Gaining knowledge of commercial awareness by watching TV or listening to the radio:

Radio:

  • BBC R4 and the World Service
  • Today Programme –  interviews with leading figures about the issues of the day in business, politics and society
  • The World Tonight – Broad coverage of international news and business
  • The Bottom Line – Evan Davis’ roundtable interviews get to the heart of business thinking
  • Global Business – on-the-ground stories from around the world
  • Today in Parliament – Discover whether or not our parliamentarians are out of touch or have their finger on the pulse.
  • World Business Report – Daily stories from around the world

Credit to Law Careers.Net for the above list.

TV:

  • Channel4 News  – The hour-long show allows time for special reports to explain issues more deeply
  • BBC – The BBC’s business and economics team contributes regularly to BBC News and also has blogs and stories on the BBC website.   Look out for reports and blogs from Robert Peston and Kamal Ahmed. Follow them on Twitter. The Beeb also makes some good one-off documentaries/short series about world economics and business
  • Bloomberg TV – Bloomberg West is a tech-tastic one-hour show, offering all the news from Silicon Valley.

Credit to Law Careers.Net for the above list

Gaining knowledge of commercial awareness by reading:

FREE Publications:

The following publications are all free to you and available to be picked up in the Law School Receptions (Eliot College Extension in Canterbury and to the left of the stairs in the Compass Building at Medway).  They are mostly published 4 times a year.  Pick them up and read them:

  • Lawyer2B  – This publication has colour coded it’s reading sections and all the commercial awareness/business news is in the Blue section.  How easy can this be?  Also available to read on line – but this costs £2 per week!
  • Young Lawyer Magazine – this is the junior version of the Solicitors Journal
  • Student Legal Week

Other publications available in KLS:

  • The KSLS journal – a monthly publication.  Join KSLS to receive you copy.

Paid for Media – don’t forget many of these journals and newspapers are available free to students in the library and via various university subscriptions on line but most also have some free on-line content.  The trick is to find the journal/newspaper/website that you like and to then read it regularly.  DO NOT try to read everything – there just isn’t enough time for this.   Choose a few topics and follow them through in detail but have a general all-round awareness of the big issues.

Again, thanksto LawCareers.Net for most of the above list!

WEBSITES, E-NEWSLETTERS & FACEBOOK: