Commercial awareness. Anyone who has so much as considered a career in law will no doubt have come across these two words. Notorious for its ability to strike fear into prospective training contract applicants, this illusive concept is actually a lot more straightforward than some will have you believe.
In order to have commercial awareness, and to signpost an interviewer to this fact, it is key to first understand what commercial awareness is. There are two parts to commercial awareness, each as important as the other.
One limb of commercial awareness concerns the environment in which clients operate. This is about understanding the business of the client and their industry. This is a key skill throughout a career in law as it will help you to identify clients’ real needs and address them in a suitable way. This is about seeing the bigger picture and the context surrounding the particular piece of work.
For training contract applicants, this means having an awareness of current affairs which might impact on clients within a particular sector and considering how that will impact on the provision of legal services. An example of this, would be understanding that in times of economic uncertainty and hardship clients may want to take a more resolute stance in the face of payment defaults whilst also recognising that they may not have the resources to run up extensive legal bills.
Another limb of commercial awareness is about understanding that a law firm is like any other business. It needs to bring in money. It does this, by attracting clients and then charging them for work undertaken for them. To survive, it needs to bring in more money than it spends.
In this sense, commercial awareness is about understanding the impact that various factors will have on the business of the law firm. To fully understand this, you will need to be familiar with how it is that law firms make money and what might impact on their ability to do so.
There are lots of different ways you can develop your commercial awareness. This will help you to answer application and interview questions alike.
Here are my top 5 tips.
If you have any questions about commercial awareness, or the Training Contract process at Michelmores, please get in touch with our graduate recruitment team.