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updated on 29 September 2020
“What one thing could a would-be lawyer do straight away to improve their commercial awareness?”
This was the question posed by Matt Broadbent to our panellists at the end of LCN’s recent webinar, Understanding commercial awareness. Here’s what they said:
1. Bernie Rivard, final-year law student at King’s College London (KCL), careers officer for the KCL student law society and future trainee at Travers Smith
Read The Grid by Matt Watkinson. This book digests a business in nine key areas in a succinct way that is easy to understand. If you approach any commercial story from one of these nine areas, you can recognise that it links to revenue, customer base, longevity or profitability for example. This gives you the background you need to understand businesses.
2. Karen French, partner in real estate department emerging-talent partner at Squire Patton Boggs
Go to the modes of information that you are comfortable with and find interesting, for example books, broadsheets, radio/podcast, television/video or social media. Drill down within the story and widen the pieces that you are reading, watching or listening to so that you can begin to get to the specialist part of interest. You should hopefully find it engaging – it then becomes genuine and when you are quizzed on it, you are much more comfortable because what you are saying is not just something that you’ve had to prepare but it has some depth to it.
3. Lizzie Arthey, graduate recruitment officer at Baker McKenzie
One of the best ways to develop your commercial awareness is to experience an industry first hand. So if you can, get some work experience, be that part time or freelance, in person or virtual. Even if it doesn’t seem legal-related, you will be gaining real great insight into an industry and thinking about the bigger picture this may align with the sort of commercial knowledge you will need as a trainee. If you are on a checkout at a supermarket, you’re working for a huge company which will have a law firm representing it, so you are gaining industry knowledge. This also applies to freelance work, where you are learning how to interact with clients. Don’t downplay the importance of real-life work experience.
Finally some bonus tips: make sure to read LCN’s commercial news round-up every Thursday and use the SWOT or PESTLE techniques (see How and when to use SWOT and PESTLE analysis) to increase your understanding of the factors affecting the business world. And take part in LCN’s regular commercial awareness quizzes every Friday on Instagram to evaluate what you have learnt.
If you have any other tips to boost commercial awareness please share them on LCN’s social media channels.