3 ways to demonstrate your commercial awareness in training contract applications

July 23, 2021


2 min read

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As any budding solicitor seeking vacation schemes or training contracts will be able to tell you, there is no escaping demonstrating your commercial awareness in applications, and rightly so. It is an invaluable skill, not only necessary to impress in your applications, but also for working lawyers to provide accurate and relevant advice to clients. Therefore, it is vital to keep commercial awareness in mind when completing applications and here are 3 ways to do so.

1. Demonstrate that you have researched the law firm you are applying to

As most application questions ask why you are applying to that particular firm, it is important to research the law firm you are applying to and to make your answers specific to that firm. This includes knowing about the main practice areas, the clients and how that firm differentiates from its main competitors. There are many ways to find this information: you can check out the law firm’s website, attend law fairs or events hosted by the firm or undertake a virtual experience programme, which more and more law firms are beginning to offer. Not only will this research convey to the law firm that you understand that it is a business needing to make profit and how its particular business functions, but it will ensure that you are applying to the right place for you.

2. Demonstrate knowledge of the legal sector

Another way to demonstrate commercial awareness is to show that you understand how the legal sector operates. This entails having a firm grasp of how the major players are performing at that time, being aware of any challenges facing the legal sector and being capable of speculating about the future intelligently. To do so, it is important to keep up to date with the news and current affairs, thinking about the potential impact of these events on businesses. If the application process includes situational judgement tests or case study exercises, you can demonstrate commercial awareness by taking commercial considerations relevant to the legal sector into account when undertaking these exercises. This will convey that you understand the commercial world in which law firms and their clients operate, which is absolutely necessary as a solicitor providing advice.

3. Discuss your own work experience

A great way to demonstrate commercial awareness is to discuss any part-time jobs or internships you have undertaken in application questions and interviews. To do so, it is useful to have several examples of relevant experiences from a job or an internship in mind that emphasise your commercial knowledge and understanding. This enables you to showcase your first-hand experience of working within the commercial world and to convey that you have an understanding of how businesses operate. Even if these experiences are not within the legal sector, they are still most definitely worth discussing. A part-time job in a pub or a supermarket can teach you a lot about the commercial realities faced by businesses which is exactly what commercial law firms are looking for in potential trainees. Any other relevant activities, such as writing for a student newspaper, will help to demonstrate your commitment to continually developing your commercial awareness.

Report written by Imogen Wilson

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