Becoming a Business lawyer – Commercial Awareness, reading the FT and all that. Part 1
These tips are in two parts. Read part 2 as well for some specific commercial awareness topics that you will need to know.
What are law firms interested in ?
- Law firms are businesses.
- Commercial law firms serve businesses.
- So the ideal lawyer needs to think like a business person.
- Law firms therefore want to recruit people who are not only good lawyers, but are good business thinkers.
How is analytical ability and ‘commercial awareness’ tested at interview ?
- Analysis of an article or case study.
- Case study possibilities :
- Financial (valuing a company),
- Economy focussed (e.g. the housing market), or
- Ethical (e.g. conflicts of interest, reputation, bribery).
- You may be asked to summarise the article or case study in a few sentences : practice these skills several times before the interview using articles from the FT and the Economist.
- You’ll be asked questions about the article or case study which are intended to test how you analyse problems and think, judgement and common sense.
- You’ll also need to be prepared to answer questions about current affairs and the business world.
What qualities, exactly, are law firms trying to test ?
- In a nutshell : clarity, creativity and flexible thinking, common sense, interest and curiosity, and the ability to talk intelligently about what’s going on in the world.
- The interviewer will also be asking him or herself : do I like this person and is he or she someone who’ll impress clients ?
So what, in practice, should you do in the interview ?
- Identify key issues and explain them clearly
- Think and argue creatively and flexibly
- Use clear expression and vocabulary
- Show that you’re a likeable, engaging person
- Show common sense and that you think about issues
- Display curiosity and awareness about the world
- How you answer questions is important – be brief, clear and confident; don’t ramble; saying ‘I don’t know’ is OK (sometimes) ! Ask if the question is unclear.
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