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Keeping up with commercial awareness in the new year

Keeping up with commercial awareness in the new year

Syndy Liew


Reading time: four minutes

I hope you’re all enjoying the new year. I tend to find it easier to keep up with commercial awareness in the new year, especially as my commercial awareness routine usually takes place when I’m getting ready for university!

Sign up for newsletters

There are a few commercial awareness newsletters that you could sign up for. By signing up for newsletters, you’ll receive bitesize current news highlights in your email. I usually spend two to five minutes scanning through the headlines and if I find a particular title interesting, I’ll spend more time reading through that news. This is a quick and easy way to keep up with what’s going on in the world. Sign up or subscribe to some of these great commercial awareness resources:

  • LawCareers.Net’s Commercial Connect Newsletter (free with your MyLCN account);
  • ZipLaw;
  • Finimize;
  • The Financial News newsletter; and
  • The Financial Times.

Actively think about your surroundings

Another way to keep up with your commercial awareness is by actively thinking about your environment. When you’re buying gifts for your friends and family at Selfridges, what does consumer spending behaviour look like? What are some of the changes in retail stores that you notice? For example, I’ve seen stores starting to offer sustainable gift wrapping. Could this indicate a trend in consumers’ demand for sustainability going forward? You could then research news about sustainability in retail stores to improve your understanding of this topic.

Realistically, it’s likely that you might not remember to look up the topics by the time you leave the shop. However, by simply thinking about your surroundings, you’re effectively analysing how businesses work. This is an easy exercise for you to verbally express your understanding of what you know about a particular commercial trend, which is a useful skill in interviews. Another benefit is having  interesting conversations with the business owners! I found that I’ve noticed things in my surroundings that I never would’ve a year ago, after consciously trying to improve my commercial awareness for the past few years.


Some people may find it useful to have a table of all the articles that they’ve found interesting so they can easily refer to them. This is especially useful when you have an interview or assessment centre coming up.

When you’re consolidating your commercial awareness, try to make connections between the individual pieces of news with the macro trends, this is where your critical analysis comes in. Firstly, does the trend remain the same or has it changed? For example, you could contrast the hiring boom that occurred during the pandemic from 2020 to 2021 with employee lay-offs that occurred at the end of 2022. What caused this change? 

Secondly, by looking at the bigger picture, you can start to see a connection between the commercial world and the future of law firms. This allows you to start thinking about law firms as businesses, which is a crucial part of commercial awareness. Lastly, you could think about how law firms could support existing clients through current market changes and the opportunities this presents for the future. This will help you when answering commercial awareness questions during application form stage or interviews. 

Check out the Commercial Question on LawCareers.Net, a weekly article written by a leading firm designed to get you thinking about commercial issues.

One step further

If you’re interested in finding out more about the commercial world, take the time to do some further reading. Here are some of the books that I was recommended. Don’t forget to check whether your university library provides free access to the following books. I have free access to all of the following books (although not the most recent editions) through my university's library: 

  • The Financial Times Guide to Banking.
  • All you need to know about the City by Chris Stokes. This book provides an excellent introduction into financial market and explanation of jargon.
  • Billion Dollar Whale by Bradley Hope and Tom Wright. A non-fiction book that investigates the Malaysian businessman Jho Low and the 1MDB fraud.
  • Liar's Poker by Michael Lewis. The text describes the author's experience as a bond salesman on Wall Street during the 1980s.
  • How to avoid a climate disaster by Bill Gates. In this book, Gates shares insights into what he learned over a decade on innovative solutions to tackle climate change.
  • The value of a whale by Adrienne Buller: This book focuses on the political side of climate change, Buller examines what’s wrong with the mainstream climate and environmental governance such as carbon offset and more. 

If you enjoy watching videos or movies, check out:

  • LawCareers.Net’s Webinar series on YouTube;
  • The Modern MBA YouTube channel – I recently discovered this YouTube channel which creates 10-minute long videos explaining the current trends;
  • Margin Call, a movie on the 2008 financial crisis; and
  • The Big Short, a film based on another book by Michael Lewis, which also focuses on the events leading up to the 2007-2008 financial crisis.

I hope this post has provided some inspiration for you to keep up with commercial awareness in 2023.