What is commercial awareness? | AllAboutLaw (2024)

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Dec 17, 2021

Written By Billy Sexton

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Dec 17, 2021

Written By Billy Sexton

A significant portion of law today revolves around business and commerce in the marketplace, between cities and regions, and across geographies. Commercial awareness is, therefore, one of the key requirements that a good and competent solicitor needs to master.

Commercial awareness can be simply defined as staying up-to-date on daily happenings and developments in the business and commercial world.

For aspiring lawyers, commercial awareness is an important attribute that can make the difference between becoming and not becoming a lawyer. Clients expect their lawyers to know in-depth details on how a business is run, the key factors for profitability and growth, and how to make optimal use of resources at hand.

Unfortunately, becoming commercially aware does not happen overnight. It must be developed over a period of time, beginning with your basic legal education and growing as you embark on your legal career and climb the ladder.


What is commercial awareness?

Commercial awareness involves knowing about the current deals, transactions and issues in the business world that might affect a client. Lawyers must have an understanding of the business environment and the operational grid under which business is conducted on a daily basis. In particular, they must be able to put into perspective how their legal advice will affect the client’s business.

Commercial awareness is not a static concept; it is dynamic and constantly changing. The flexibility to adapt and adopt changing commercial acumen is the hallmark of any brilliant solicitor or top-rated law firm.

Why is commercial awareness important?

Solicitors provide their clients with advice and legal assistance on issues that are either related to or governed by economic, social and political events. While clients know a lot about their business, they generally are not experts in the law. This is where solicitors come in, and it is their job not only to provide legal expertise, but also to match up their knowledge with that of their client and gain an in-depth understanding of their business.

For solicitors, understanding a client’s business means—first and foremost—understanding what the business does and where it operates. However, this is just the beginning. For a solicitor to add value to a business, they also need to become fully acquainted with how the business functions internally, who its competitors are, and how other external factors might affect any legal action they decide to take. A solicitor should be able to advise a business in understanding what the consequences of taking legal action might be and knowing the best ways to help them achieve their business aims.

Firms only offer positions to those who can demonstrate that they’re up to speed with political, economic and social developments; they want to know you will keep up with being commercially aware after your training, so if you start it now and make a habit of remaining business savvy, this will benefit your applications.

Commercial awareness shouldn’t be about being able to regurgitate facts. Instead, it’s a way of thinking—you should be intrigued about the profession you want to develop a career in and the market it operates in.

Gaining commercial awareness

As was mentioned earlier on, it is best to start early on the road to gaining commercial awareness. Firms will be testing your commercial awareness as soon as you begin applying fortraining contracts. Most application forms have sections that are devoted to gathering information on how tuned-in to the business atmosphere you are as a prospective solicitor. This does not mean that you have to be a business and economic guru; at this stage firms are only interested in checking that you have some basic understanding.

Researching commercial awareness

Research is the easiest way to gain commercial knowledge. There’s no textbook on commercial awareness, but you should try reading newspapers, business publications and company newsletters, relevant books, watching relevant TV programmes or downloading business podcasts.

Try and stay up-to-date on the latest deals, transactions, legislative changes and other relevant developments on a daily basis such that you are able to understand and appreciate the big picture as well as contemplate micro-level analysis. Signing up for email updates on issues you’re interested in or that you think are relevant is an excellent way of becoming a bit more commercially aware every day.

Practical ways of gaining commercial awareness

That being said, work experience is probably the most practical way to gain commercial acumen.

Working any kind of job, not necessarily one in law, will provide insight into how a business is conducted, what factors contribute to success or failure, how to utilise resources to the best extent, and what will be the bottom-line results. Even doing short internships during the summer holidays at companies in an industry segment you are interested in will add weight to your CV.

Other methods include participating in discussion forums, industry-specific networking or business clubs, or attending lectures and seminars focusing on business and commerce. You can also interact with various kinds of business professionals on a one-to-one basis among your circle of peers, friends and acquaintances.

Proving your commercial awareness

For a prospective solicitor, displaying a keen sense of commercial awareness will be a major portion of the application and recruitment process. It begins with the details you provide in your application forms, continues with researching the law firm, and ends with providing final proof of your proficiency during the interview process where time will be spent on assessing your commercial awareness.

In your application forms for vacation schemes and training contracts, law firms will try to gauge how commercially aware you are. They might provide specific case studies and expect you to show your knowledge of their clients and current events to reach conclusions. Sometimes, they won’t mention commercial awareness at all, but they’ll expect you to demonstrate it nonetheless. For instance, if they ask you why you’ve chosen to apply to that firm specifically, you should demonstrate an in-depth knowledge of what the firm does and perhaps align it with some of your own interests.

In interviews, you should be prepared to answer in a similar way. However, as interviews are more fast-paced, you should be ready to think through answers quickly and be articulate. Interviewers will not just be looking for signs that you’re up-to-date on recent developments—they also want to see that you can communicate your knowledge effectively.

The people you will be meeting during the recruitment process will be well-qualified and experienced in the nuances of commercial awareness. The way you tailor your responses will definitely give them an idea of the potential you may or may not possess in applying the concept in your career as a solicitor. As a result, it’s important that you begin preparing as soon as possible to show recruiters how committed you are to staying commercially aware throughout your career. Get it right, and you will be well on your way to succeeding in the legal career of your choice.


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What is commercial awareness? | AllAboutLaw (2024)


How do you explain commercial awareness? ›

Commercial awareness is the understanding of how your business – and your industry – operate and make money. When you demonstrate commercial awareness, you're focused on making money for your business and helping it achieve its aims.

What is a commercial awareness question? ›

Some examples of application form and interview questions which are designed to assess commercial awareness in a candidate: What do you know about our organisation? Who do you think are our main competitors? Tell me about a recent business story in the news that has captured your interest?

How do you show commercial awareness in an interview? ›

You should demonstrate your commercial awareness through showing that you have completed a good amount of research on the employer on the sector (particularly at interview, when answering questions or when asking your own questions) and by whether you factor in commercial considerations when approaching scenario-based ...

Why do you need commercial awareness? ›

Commercially aware people think of new ideas, develop new products, spot opportunities, help reduce risk that a business is exposed, make processes more efficient, improve customer service and deliver added value to a business. This is why it's such an important skill and in-demand by almost every organisation.

What is an example of commercial awareness? ›

Although it may not seem like it, maintaining a positive relationship with clients is another example of commercial awareness. Keeping customers happy is the only way to ensure a business continues to run, and you must be aware of this when interacting with them.

How do you get commercial awareness? ›

Work experience, part-time jobs and voluntary work all offer fantastic opportunities for developing commercial awareness. It's a good idea to look for law firm work experience or a placement at a bank. You could also take up a part-time job in a supermarket or restaurant.

How do you answer commercial questions? ›

6 commercial awareness questions answered - YouTube

What are commercial skills? ›

It could mean making the most of existing contracts, improving efficiencies in ways of delivering a service, identifying opportunities for new customers or exploring new business opportunities to maximise income of the council.

Why do you answer commercial law questions? ›

Do some more research and tailor your answer further to that firm.
  1. Application form tip #1: research what commercial law means. ...
  2. Application form tip #2: use personal, rather than generic, examples. ...
  3. Application form tip #3: show your research about the firm's legal practice areas.

How would you describe yourself in 3 words? ›

Example answers for "Describe yourself in 3 words"
  • "I'd describe myself as driven, communicative and reliable. ...
  • "I'm organized, patient and helpful. ...
  • "First, I'm passionate. ...
  • "The first word I'd use to describe myself is approachable. ...
  • "Enthusiastic, confident and friendly are three words I'd pick to describe myself.
Jan 3, 2022

How can I improve my commercial skills? ›

Ten ways to boost commercial skills…
  1. Hire commercial people. ...
  2. Make commerciality everyone's business. ...
  3. Collaborate with stakeholders. ...
  4. Establish what good looks like. ...
  5. Challenge specs. ...
  6. Measure the right things. ...
  7. Consider demand. ...
  8. Embrace technology.
Jan 19, 2018

Why do you want this job? ›

Talk about specific examples of how you can help this company achieve their goals and highlight any relevant transferrable skills that will make you stand out as the right candidate. Write down any recent achievements you can talk about or any challenges you've faced recently that might be related to this new job.

What skills do I do well? ›

8 job skills you should have
  • Communication.
  • Teamwork.
  • Problem solving.
  • Initiative and enterprise.
  • Planning and organising.
  • Self-management.
  • Learning.
  • Technology.
Dec 6, 2018

What does commercial mean in business? ›

Commercial generally relates to anything business or commerce. A commercial is an advertisement for a business. Commercial activity is selling goods or services for-profit. There's also commercial trading in the forward and futures markets, generally done for heading purposes.

What is a commercial decision? ›

A commercial decision is any decision that creates value for an organisation helping to achieve its underlying strategy, mission and aims.

What should I ask in an interview? ›

7 good questions to ask at an interview
  • Can you tell me more about the day-to-day responsibilities of the role? ...
  • How could I impress you in the first three months? ...
  • Are there opportunities for training and progression within the role/company? ...
  • Where do you think the company is headed in the next five years?

How do you apply commercial focus? ›

There are a number of things you can do to improve your commercial awareness:
  1. Read the business pages of newspapers, and general interest economic magazines such as The Economist, readily available online. ...
  2. Watch or listen to the news channel, most large news agencies broadcast programmes that focus on business news.

What is a commercial issue? ›

Commercial concern means any concern engaged in service, trade, business, traffic or commerce in general, exclusive of Industrial concerns.

What are your top 3 skills? ›

Top skills employers look for
  1. Communication skills. Communication skills are needed in virtually any job. ...
  2. Leadership skills. ...
  3. Teamwork skills. ...
  4. Interpersonal skills. ...
  5. Learning/adaptability skills. ...
  6. Self-management skills. ...
  7. Organizational skills. ...
  8. Computer skills.
Apr 3, 2020

What is the role of a commercial analyst? ›

Commercial Analysts are responsible for gathering financial and operational data about an organisation, and providing assessments and analysis of the data. Commercial Analysts sit within the finance team of a company and assist in driving the positive financial direction of a company.

How do see yourself in 5 years? ›

So what are interviewers asking? Well, when interviewers ask, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” They're really asking, “What are your career goals within this position?” They want to know that the position will satisfy you and that you'll work hard and stay with the company for a long time.

What are your strengths? ›

In general, your strengths should be skills that can be supported through experience. For example, if you list communication as a strength, you may want to recall a situation in which you used communication to reach a goal or resolve a problem.

What is an assessment interview? ›

An oral interview-based assessment is a technical and structured interview used to assess a candidate's skills, knowledge, and abilities. A credentialed faculty member will evaluate learning on responses given during a structured interview on the course learning outcomes.

What does commercially minded mean? ›

or commercially minded (kəˈmɜːʃəlɪ ) adjective. knowledgeable about business; interested in making money. Designers are becoming more commercially minded.

How do I prepare for a commercial law interview? ›

Answering 'Why Commercial Law?' & Other Career Motivation Interview ...

Why do people want commercial law? ›

Commercial law offers a wide range of opportunities to work on because it reviews the specific areas in which people trade. For instance, commercial lawyers can provide tax advice and sound contract law advice as well. So, there will always be a demand for legal professionals who want to specialise in commercial law.

Is commercial law easy? ›

It is an area of law that can be very challenging, however offers almost unlimited rewards if you put in the time and effort into a career in the legal area. A more literal definition for commercial law can also be given that it is a 'body of law that governs business and commercial transactions.

Why do you want work with us? ›

I see this opportunity as a way to contribute to an exciting/forward-thinking/fast-moving company/industry, and I feel I can do so by/with my …” “I feel my skills are particularly well-suited to this position because …” “I believe I have the type of knowledge to succeed in this role and at the company because …”

How do you introduce yourself? ›

Self Introduction in Interview
  1. Dress Appropriately. ...
  2. Prepare what to say. ...
  3. Begin by Greeting the Interviewer. ...
  4. Include your Educational Qualifications. ...
  5. Elaborate on Professional Experience (if any) ...
  6. Mention your Hobbies and Interests. ...
  7. Be Prepared for Follow Up Questions. ...
  8. Sample 1.

What are commercial roles? ›

Commercial is a broad term, usually attached to roles where business or strategic decisions are made based on the recommendations and work that is done in the role.

What makes a business successful? ›

“One thing successful businesses have in common is … a strong customer focus,” said John Stevenson, marketing specialist at My GRE Exam Preparation. “They create a culture that is centered around their customers and focus their processes, products and services around their services needs.

What does commercial mean in business? ›

Commercial generally relates to anything business or commerce. A commercial is an advertisement for a business. Commercial activity is selling goods or services for-profit. There's also commercial trading in the forward and futures markets, generally done for heading purposes.

What is the meaning of commercial acumen? ›

Commercial acumen can go by many names including business savvy or commercial awareness. They all describe the same qualities – a strong understanding of the business world and an organisation's market and environment, backed by a ready grasp of what the company needs to do to succeed.

What are commercial skills? ›

It could mean making the most of existing contracts, improving efficiencies in ways of delivering a service, identifying opportunities for new customers or exploring new business opportunities to maximise income of the council.

How can I improve my commercial skills? ›

Ten ways to boost commercial skills…
  1. Hire commercial people. ...
  2. Make commerciality everyone's business. ...
  3. Collaborate with stakeholders. ...
  4. Establish what good looks like. ...
  5. Challenge specs. ...
  6. Measure the right things. ...
  7. Consider demand. ...
  8. Embrace technology.
Jan 19, 2018

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