Law Career Guide

What is Commercial Awareness?

Having commercial awareness is important to any successful lawyer’s career, no matter what avenue of law they practice in. 

It’s an understanding of how industries and businesses work. It’s about knowing what’s going on in the world and being able to analyse the ways current affairs might impact a sector or company. And it’s something you can start building today, to prepare in submitting a high-quality, successful application.

Commercial awareness keeps you informed and up to date on daily news and developments in the economy, business and the commercial world. And it’s essential to being a successful lawyer for three reasons: 

  1. Knowing the law is not enough. Many clients are not lawyers themselves and want to know what the implications of the law are on their business. 
  2. Clients want tailored legal advice that is practical and solutions based. To provide this, you need to know what is happening in the world, at their business, and how they impact each other. 
  3. Being commercially aware can help a lawyer to grow their practice; to seek out new trends and potential deals that may lead to new work for the firm. 

So, how do you build commercial awareness? 

There are lots of ways to keep yourself informed. Whether it’s reading the paper, listening to podcasts or joining a network – there’s quite literally a whole world of news and reporting out there waiting to be discovered. But it’s also worth noting that the more varied your media and sources are, the more diversity of thought and perspectives you stand to gain.

Here are some of our top tips for building for commercial awareness: 

-    Be aware of political, economic, social, technological, legal and, environmental trends (PESTLE).

-    Think critically. Ask yourself how news in one industry could affect the operations of another. For example, what do advances in AI mean for business? 

-    If you have a keen interest for a certain industry, develop your knowledge of that industries’ regulations, markets and competitors. 

-    Read publications such as Financial Times, The Economist, City ATM, Bloomberg Business Week, Reuters Business and BBC Business News. 

-    Stay up-to-date on social media by following content on LinkedIn, listening to news and business podcasts, and downloading the Finimize App.

-    Read about stories happening in the legal market on publications such as Lawyer2B, Legal Week and The Lawyer. 

-    Join a commercial awareness or business society at university and discuss recent events and topics with your peers. 

-    Find out if there are sector-specific publications for industries you are particularly interested in, and make a habit of staying up to date with what’s happening in them. 

Whether it’s 10 minutes of reading over your morning coffee or listening to a podcast during your commute – growing your commercial awareness is something you can easily build into your daily routine. It doesn’t have to take up a large chunk of your day each time – doing a little bit often is better than nothing at all. And everything you read, listen to and discuss, will help towards creating a successful application and a thriving career in law.