Commercial Awareness: What you actually need to know

Commercial awareness can feel like you’re falling into a deep and dark pit of never-ending news, politics, and business memos...🏴‍☠️

But don’t panic! This post will help you understand what it is you actually need to know about commercial awareness.

Topics that will most probably come up (get reading up on these 😎)

Brexit

What You Need To Know:

How the different potential outcomes will affect law firms, businesses, economies, in particular if there is a no deal 🙀. Look at what law firms and businesses are doing to preempt Brexit eg moving business back to the US, opening offices in Dublin. As this topic is changing all the time, just make sure you’re up to date at the time of your interview.

Challenges facing the legal industry

What You Need To Know:

Brexit can be used as an example, but there are other issues to! Have a read about what partners are saying are the biggest challenges for their firms (a quick google and you’ll find some great articles). Some examples are decreasing client loyalty, ensuring they are meeting gender and diversity quotas, preventing lawyer ‘burn out’, and more.

Technology

What You Need To Know:

How law tech and legal tech are changing law – they are making work more efficient but also have the potential to decrease the number of lawyers that actually need to be employed in firms. You can find on law firm websites the different ways that they are incorporating lawtech into their day to day business. It is best to be specific for the firm as you can show you are well researched and aware of what your chosen firm is doing to keep up with technological innovations.

US-China Trade War

What You Need To Know:

This is important if you are applying to US or international firms. Look at how this could affect trade between certain countries, technology regulations and the laws being brought up surrounding national security and how these all interplay. This is highly publicised so you’ll easily be able to find lots of information on this.

How much more do I need to know?

I suggest picking around two to three topics separate from the above that you keep following in the news. Make sure you are interested in the topics, and try to pick ones that are relevant to your firm.

There are three ways you can look at whether a commercial interest is relevant to your firm:

1. Regions: if your firm works in a particular region, take a look at issues relevant to doing business in that region.

2. Specialisms: eg finance – look at current big mergers, latest companies to go into administration

3. Law firm blogs: Law firm blogs will tell you the information they are most concerned about, the cases they are currently working on, and the information they currently want their clients to be updated on.

Where can I find the best commercial awareness updates?

  • LinkedIn Daily Rundown

Follow this on LinkedIn – it provides summaries of the most important news and insights of the day. You can select different streams which cover different regions for example the UK, the US or Europe.

  • The Financial Times

I read the FT most weekends when I can to get an idea of what is going on in the business and finance world. This gives the latest news in more detail which is super useful for when you get asked about issues at interview.

  • Law Firm Blogs!

Generally, law firms have their own blogs in which they put updates about commercial issues going on and the repercussions of these. Check if the law firm you are applying to has one and make sure to have a read through it.

Some examples of these are:

https://hsfnotes.com/

http://www.nortonrosefulbright.com/knowledge/blogs/

http://www.elexica.com/en/blog

  •  Visual Capitalist

I follow the visual capitalist on LinkedIn because I love their infographics on economics and politics. They are so easy to understand and so aesthetically pleasing that you actually enjoy learning and absorbing the information they are giving you.

Note: To anyone who is reading this and doesn’t have LinkedIn – you can get updates from ALL FOUR of these sources on your LinkedIn feed so easily by following them so you never miss an update. I 100% recommend having a LinkedIn account.

Also if you have a tad of cash to splash – I really recommend reading The Economist. It is my fave mag but super pricey and not all unis have free copies, unlike newspapers which you can usually find somewhere for free.

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