Develop commercial awareness
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 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. .
There is a growing number of virtual internships on this platform from a range of corporate firms. Typically the internship will take about 5-8 hours and will consist of on-line tasks. Don’t worry – the firms don’t have access to your answers and they do not use results as part of future applications so you don’t need score high marks (although why wouldn’t you try your best?). You can add these to your CV too.
Read this blog about one student’s experience.
Gaining knowledge from law firms
Nearly all firms will have helpful articles on their websites/blogs which will help you to build an understanding of the legal industry and the sectors their clients work in. Take a look at some of these:
- Linklaters’ Thought Leadership Series: https://www.linklaters.com/en/insights/thought-leadership
- Clifford Chance’s SMART series https://careers.cliffordchance.com/london/podcasts.html
- more to follow…..
Gaining knowledge of commercial awareness by watching TV or listening to the radio/podcasts:
- 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.
Podcasts and You Tube Channels:
The following are in no particular order
• LawCareers.Net YouTube channel for insights from recruiters, lawyers and the LCN team. https://www.youtube.com/user/LawCareersNet
• Law and Broader is also a great channel by Irwin Mitchell solicitor Chrissie Wolfe. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCA3R8Vz5RkOezmBXl59__Gg
• For podcasts, check out this list. https://www.lawcareers.net/Explore/LCNSays/The-10-podcasts-all-law-students-should-listen-to
• The Bar Council of England and Wales YouTube https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbCu4-kXxf6MyGLMyVuFdLg/videos
- Beyond Brexit, PwC UK ‘A podcast series from PwC in which we discuss key Brexit-related events and issues affecting business and the economy.’
• BLD Lawyers YouTube ‘Archive of interviews.’ https://www.youtube.com/user/BLDLawyers/videos
• Cambridge University Law Society Speakers on iTunesU https://itunes.apple.com/gb/itunes-u/cambridge-university-law-society-speakers/id507438477?mt=10
• First 100 Years – iTunes – series of ten podcasts charts the history of women in the legal professions. Progressing decade-by-decade, the podcasts will be around 45-minute discussions between legal pioneers, historians, academics and legal practitioners based on key themes, including gender stereotypes, the work/life balance and diversity. https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/the-first-100-years-podcast/id1448724375
• The Hardwicke Legal Podcast, Apple Podcasts – an informal view of important legal issues impacting individuals as well as companies and other legal entities. https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/the-hardwicke-legal-podcast/id1477040607
• International Bar Association, Vimeo – educational videos and interviews of interest to international lawyers and businesspeople. https://vimeo.com/ibafilms
• Law in Action, BBC Radio 4 on iTunesU ‘Joshua Rozenberg presents Radio 4’s long-running legal magazine programme, featuring reports and discussion on matters relating to law.’
• The Pupillage Podcast, Middle Temple ‘From Middle Temple, this is The Pupillage Podcast, hosted by Georgina Wolfe and Beatrice Collier. In each episode Beatrice and Georgina chat to a range of guests – junior tenants, junior barristers, senior juniors, silks, judges and others – to obtain their advice on what applicants should be doing to pursue their goal and increase their chances of obtaining pupillage. Each guest brings the benefit of his or her own experience of sitting on scholarship committees, marshalling with students, judging moots, reading applications, conducting pupillage interviews, mentoring students and of Life at the Bar to give listeners precious insights, tips and pitfalls to avoid. https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/the-pupillage-podcast/id1448140217?mt=2
• Talking Law, Women in the Law and Business UK on iTunes ‘Talking Law profiles leading figures in UK law as they discuss the highs and lows of their career plus the challenges and realities of the legal profession. https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/talking-law/id1446876356?mt=2
• Clifford Chance, The SMART series – https://careers.cliffordchance.com/london/podcasts.html
• 4 New Square podcasts – ‘Analysis: Commercial Dispute Resolution and Life at the Bar’. cover recent developments in commercial law and life at the Bar. You can subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Android and Google Podcasts (just type 4 New Square or the podcast name into your podcast app) or you can listen via their website here – https://www.4newsquare.com/podcasts/
- • The Hearing – Legal Podcast with Kevin Poulter (Thomson Reuters)
• Law Pod UK 1 COR barristers, current issues of civil and common law
• Lawyer 2 Lawyer – this is a US podcast but there are a lot of episodes that cover a much broader range of topics
• Chambers Student, commercial awareness, legal blogs – https://www.chambersstudent.co.uk/where-to-start/commercial-awareness/commercial-awareness-resources-legal-blogs
• Bethany Wren – The 10 podcasts all law students should listen to – https://www.lawcareers.net/Explore/LCNSays/The-10-podcasts-all-law-students-should-listen-to They include (click on the hyperlink provided to get the hyperlinks for the following):
BBC Radio 4 Beyond Today – They answer one big story from the news every weekday.
UK Law Weekly – a weekly podcast on recent legal decisions and news.
Herbert Smith Freehills Podcast
BBC Law in Action – hosted by QC Joshua Rozenberg
First 100 Years Podcast – discover the history of women in the legal profession from 1919 to 1959.
DLA Piper TechLaw Podcast – the podcast forecasts new trends and covers policies and regulation, and contract and legal changes. It’s a must-listen for anyone interested in technology law.
The Law Society Podcast – a collection of interviews with human rights lawyers
The World of Business Podcast – insights into the business world.
The Ahead of the Curve podcast – The series aims to tackle legal issues and grey matters, so keep an eye out for further episodes as they are released.
LawCareers.Net Podcast which is designed to cover a different topic each month
- 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:
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.
- The Lawyer magazine – www.thelawyer.com
- The Economist – https://www.economist.com/
- The Telegraph – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/
- The Times – The Times Law Supplement – www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/law/
- Financial Times – https://www.ft.com/
- The Guardian – https://www.theguardian.com/uk
- Reuters – Heavy on the financial markets and good for fast news reports. http://uk.reuters.com/
- Wall Street Journal – Interesting to read about European issues from another perspective. https://www.wsj.com/europe
- South China Post http://www.scmp.com/frontpage/international
- BBC News website – Pitches many stories at the non-expert, but this can be really helpful http://www.bbc.co.uk/news
- The Times of India –http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/defaultinterstitial.cms
- UK Law Students Association publishes a journal – http://www.legalissuesjournal.com/
Again, thanksto LawCareers.Net for most of the above list!
WEBSITES, E-NEWSLETTERS & SOCIAL MEDIA:
- For a great introduction and links to useful newspapers: http://www.lex100.com/index.php/gaining-commercial-awareness
- Lawyer2b – www.lawyer2b.com – sign up for their email alerts which include commercial awareness articles. FB – https://www.facebook.com/younglawyermag
- LawCareers.Net weekly e-news letter is very helpful. Register here. There is a FB icon on their webpage but it doesn’t seem to be active. Give it a go…it may be a temporary blip.
- The Lex 100 – To receive a bi-monthly newsletter email firstname.lastname@example.org FB – https://www.facebook.com/TheLex100
- Legal Business Magazine – really aimed at senior lawyers, this one is for those who really want to do lots of extra research. Sign up here.
- The Law Society Gazette (www.lawgazette.co.uk)
- Legal Futures – resource tracking the evolving legal landscape. http://www.legalfutures.co.uk/
- Legal Week (www.legalweek.com),
- TED Talks – https://www.ted.com/talks?sort=newest&topics%5B%5D=business
- The Am Law Daily (www.americanlawyer.com/amlaw_daily.jsp) will have information for US firms. Look out for big deals, financial results and stories making a splash in the profession to judge how well a firm is performing.
- Roll on Friday – www.rollonfriday.com this is a UK legal gossip website so do treat what you read with caution.
- Above the Law is an American law gossip website (again, treat with caution) which has become quite powerful. www.abovethelaw.com.
- Legal Cheek (www.legalcheek.com) (another gossip one – treat with caution) emulates Above the Law’s model but is not as well-established.
- The New Jurist – http://news.newjurist.com/ – This International journal aims to examine laws and legal issues from a humanistic and enlightened perspective. Articles in English and German.
- The Ultimate Law Guide – http://www.ultimatelawguide.com/careers/articles/demystifying-commercial-awareness.html
- Little Law – https://www.linkedin.com/company/littlelaw/?msgConversationId=6581849146611892224&msgOverlay=true
- The Bright Network – https://www.brightnetwork.co.uk/graduate-career-advice/commercial-awareness/an-overview/