How To Be Commercially Aware

It has been a long time since I wrote an article, partly due to deadline’s, exams, coursework and university as well as training contract applications. However, a few weeks ago I attended an insight day at Burges Salmon, London and I gained not only an insight into the firm, its application process and commercial awareness.

Burges Salmon is a firm based in Bristol, it does not have an active office in London, however, the insight day was held in their London office there to expand their search for future trainees. Burges Salmon’s London office is purely for client meetings and insight days, no trainee’s work there on a full-time basis nor are they recruited there.

I learnt that in order to be successful as a lawyer, particularly a commercialised lawyer, you have to be commercially aware and be able to apply that knowledge to transactions and client queries.

How to be commercially aware: 

Read newspapers (The Times, FT, The Economist)

Just read newspapers, read anything, it doesn’t have to be business related, it can be about anything, just as long as young gain some knowledge on current affairs (not relating to celebrities!) then you will essentially be commercially aware. Pick out a topic and read about it every week, you can do this online or in a paper version.

Work experience and internships

Work experience and internships are fantastic ways to gain commercial awareness on a practical level, you are essentially able to understand what the client wants and how best to achieve it. From working in a supermarket to working in a bank, any experience is a good experience and helps build your understanding of the business aspect as well as the practical aspect.

Join a society

Joining a society is a great way to communicate with others and also enhance your commerciality on all levels particularly if you take on a leadership role, you can develop the skills required to see in the mindset of a client and their needs, i.e. if you are the president of a society, you may need to consider the allocation of resources, money and how best to attract others to the society, this all matters in business.

Form an opinion

Just have an opinion on a topic and know what you’re talking about because it is highly likely that in a TC interview you will be questioned on commercial topics and how they relate to the firm and how best to conduct business.

Watch documentaries

This is a great way to learn more and enjoy what you learn, for me I enjoy watching money laundering documentaries and crime ones, but there are ones for every topic!


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