Regardless of whether you’re hoping to land yourself a space on a law degree course at University or plan to ask a local legal firm for some work experience or perhaps a traineeship, you’ll no doubt be required to demonstrate some level of commercial awareness at the interview stage.

This is enough to send some candidates running for the nearest exit, but the subject of commercial awareness isn’t quite so daunting if you follow these five golden rules.

  1. Understand that all legal firms operate to make a profit

You’ll need to communicate that you understand that any legal services provider (aside from charitable legal providers) operate just like any other business with the aim of making a profit.

Just because they help people with their legal needs doesn’t mean that they’re giving away their precious time and knowledge gratis, so this is the first point that you’ll need to get your head around.

  1. Show an appreciation for their bottom line

Like any business, law is all about profitability. Knowing that law firms keep a keen eye on their bottom line and cash flow will be an integral piece of knowledge that will put you in good stead as you begin your working or academic career. This impacts on a day-to-day level because it has implications for billing and time spent on cases, as well as which cases are accepted.

  1. Keep your finger on the pulse

You’ll not only want to show that you understand the commercial side of the legal profession to some extent, but in any type of interview you’ll need to show your enthusiasm for the subject. You should be able to prove that you’re keeping an eye on any breaking news stories or notable mergers or cases that are currently in the media.

Good resources for this include Legal Week and The Lawyer for the latest commentary, hot topics and legal commercial news.

  1. A new way of thinking

Showcasing your commercial awareness isn’t just about regurgitating stats and a script on ‘what commercial awareness is’, it’s more about having an understanding of how and why businesses operate in this space.

You’ll need to gain knowledge about the markets law firms operate in to fully grasp commercial awareness when it comes to the legal profession, so do as much reading as you can to get a holistic view of the legal services industry before your interview. 

  1. Expect (and want) to learn more

Going into an interview for a traineeship or academic course all guns blazing and telling the interviewer that you know everything there is about commercial awareness isn’t going to get you very far. You need to showcase your understanding at present and show that you are excited to learn more as you embark on your placement or course. Be clear that you appreciate there’s still much more to learn about commercial awareness.