Bethany Wren - Five easy and practical ways to boost your commercial awareness
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Speaking to lots of you over the course of this year, the one thing that has come up time and time again is how to improve your commercial awareness. It’s certainly a tricky topic for lots of students to define, and even trickier to understand how to gain this skill. I’ve put together a list of small and easy ways to understand the business world and how law firms and their clients operate within it.
1. Follow the business news on Twitter
A quick and simple way to gain insight into the business world is to keep up with what’s going on in your Twitter feed. Good accounts to follow include BBC Business, Guardian Business, City AM and Commercial Awareness. Having the latest updates and articles pop up in your newsfeed makes it easy to keep in the loop of what’s going on. For more on how to use Twitter to further your law career, see my handy guide on the best accounts to follow.
2. Read news summaries
Here at LCN we pull together the need-to-know stories of the week into our commercial news round-ups which are posted every Thursday. For a broader view of commercial topics, you can read our feature which summarises the commercial year 2016-17, discussing issues such as Brexit, the gig economy and banking – all of which affect law firms on an everyday basis, and are topics they’d like to see that you’re aware of. For short and simple summaries, you can also sign up to Finimize which is a daily email service that explains the financial news in straightforward and accessible terms.
3. Get in-depth with our Commercial Questions
Dive into a whole range of legal and commercial issues with our Commercial Questions, written by lawyers at leading law firms and designed to get you thinking. Firms will always be impressed to see that you have your finger on the pulse of issues that they themselves are advising on and writing about, so take some time out of your week to read these articles on topics such as ePrivacy, AI, and 3D printing.
4. Think about your own experiences
It’s easy to brush aside part-time jobs in bars and restaurants as irrelevant to your legal career, but as this recent popular LCN blog post explains, waiting tables could actually make you a better lawyer. Similarly, the experience of working in a consumer-based environment, handling money, serving customers and operating tills all show that you have a basic awareness of how businesses work. So have a think about your past work experience and see if you can make the links between what you’ve done and how businesses operate on a simple level. International transactional deals it is not, but it’s certainly a good basis to jump off in applications and interviews.
5. Get talking
The last step is perhaps the easiest: discuss topical commercial issues with your peers, friends, classmates, university lecturers, family, whoever. By talking to other people about the business world and its goings-on you are expressing a stance, arguing a side and giving reasoned judgements (hopefully!) in light of evidence you have acquired. In short, you’re acting like a lawyer and practising not only for networking and interview situations, but also for everyday life in your future career.
And finally, have you heard of Lexology? It’s a content hub in collaboration with over 650 law firms globally and has thousands of articles written by firms updated daily. You can sign up to their tailored legal newsfeed service, select the areas that you are interested in, and get the latest articles related to those areas emailed to you every day. It’s the perfect way to hear directly from top firms, to understand how they work and how they present themselves to their clients. We also regularly tweet the week’s most interesting Lexology articles from our Twitter account so make sure to keep an eye out for those.
In collaboration with Lexology, LCN also offers bespoke tailored newsfeed emails to student law societies delivering the latest and most useful legal and commercial content. If this is something you would be interested in receiving, please contact your student law society president.