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You have been told by many people by now that you need this 'thing' called commercial awareness and nobody can really pin down an answer for you as to what is is; you are just expected to go out and find it.
What is Commercial Awareness?
Knowledge of events happening in different sectors and how it could affect the legal sector or specifically the firm or business you are applying to.
Understanding of the legal industry.
Trends in the market.
If the business you are applying to is international, commercial awareness might be demonstrated by knowing how each location in a different country may be affected differently.
Strengths and weaknesses of the firm you are applying to.
Having a business mindset.
How do I get Commercial Awareness?
It develops overtime so reading the newspaper the night before an interview is not going to help you.
You do not have to read every possible piece of news or information out there.
Read newspapers, journals, sign up to sites that give you an overview of the news, or even follow certain figures on LinkedIn to stay up to date.
Certain jobs and volunteer opportunities may help.
Going to events offered on CareersHub may also help as some of their events are geared towards commercial awareness.
What are some Commercial Awareness questions a firm may ask?
How would you define commercial awareness?
How will BREXIT affect the firm?
What are issues facing the firm?
What is the FTSE and what does it mean for the economy?
How do I apply my knowledge to a commercial awareness question (An Example)?
XXXXX is a law firm that provides a variety of legal services in international and domestic practice. Alternative dispute resolution is an evolving issue as courts are trying to cut down on litigation. Parties may be costly penalized if they have not tried to mediate beforehand. This method may be more socially acceptable as it lowers stress levels in comparison to litigation and it is offered online. Alternative dispute resolution may not be as effective in certain areas of law that are more litigation based such as criminal. However, it is good for the environment as not going to court also saves paperwork. In terms of strengths, XXXXX already practice dispute resolution therefore if legislation requires an expansion of alternative dispute resolution they may have more experience than other firms. The weakness is it does not generate as much revenue as litigation would which is a large portion of the firm’s business. The opportunity of using this resolution is more privacy with business secrets, and in international disputes parties will not feel disadvantaged by being attached to one country’s court. This is an advantage as a majority of the firm’s work is both international and with businesses. The threat of alternative dispute resolution being used instead of litigation is people may hire a mediator instead because it is cheaper which would affect XXXXX’s practice.
Every Friday will have a post on commercial awareness. Specifically, top news pieces for the week that you should be aware of. There will also be a monthly commercial awareness contest to keep you on your toes so stay tuned! If you have a commercial awareness post, you would like to share please email it to Brooke.McNeil@city.ac.uk. If you write for the blog 5 times you will be awarded with a certificate for your CV.