Unbeknown to most trainee solicitors, many law firms enquire about the commercial awareness of applicants who want to practice business law. It is because commercial law has changed over the last two decades or so. That said, commercial awareness varies in practice and depends on where you want to practice. For instance, if working for an international law firm is more appealing, then you need to familiarize yourself with global commercial issues to develop relevant commercial awareness. However, if you are wondering why commercial knowledge is crucial to you as a trainee solicitor, then read on.
Clients want Commercial Answers -- As a trainee solicitor, you are expected to apply the concepts you learned as a law graduate student in practice. However, according to experienced lawyers and graduate recruiters, solicitor trainees who understand the commercial aspect of the profession stand a better chance of convincing clients. In 20 year, the commercial segment of the law profession has evolved considerably. As such, business acumen on the part of a solicitor is critical for success. The reason is that clients are less interested in your mastery of the law. All they want is legal solutions that match their commercial objectives. Therefore, the better you tailor your advice, the more likely you are to grow your clientele.
Enhances Understanding of Law Firm Operations – Other than advising clients on legal issues, it is vital for solicitor trainees to understand and appreciate the inner commercial workings of a law firm. It is because law firms are businesses like any other, and the bottom line is equally important. A trainee solicitor looking for a training contract will thus stand a much better chance if they take their time to understand the implications of the law firm's business activities, such as Alternative Business Structures (ABS). However, it is only possible if you have the relevant commercial awareness because it sends the message that you understand how the firm's commercial side affects day-to-day operations.
Enhances your Role as a Trainee Solicitor -- If you want to stand out as a trainee solicitor in commercial law, then you need to read around the subjects or themes that the law firm works on. It might involve monitoring the cases of critical clients through the press, in-house counsel, or analysis of business publications to familiarize yourself with current issues, such as mergers and acquisitions. Rather than get bogged down with standard trainee tasks, commercial awareness makes your role more interesting and exciting, which is vital if your objective is to practice business law as a full-time solicitor.
Talk with experienced solicitors about what commercial awareness would be good for the type of law you're going into.