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Insights on Commercial Awareness Workshops

In the last month, representatives from Herbert Smith Freehills and Linklaters came to the University to deliver talks in relation to commercial awareness. It was a great opportunity to understand more about the law firm as well as interact with associates and trainees from the London office. Have you missed the events? If you did, you are coming to the right place. In this article, I will be providing some insights regarding my experience in the two events.

Herbert Smith Freehills: An Introduction to the Commercial Application of Law

Key Takeaways:

- Be ready to comment on current hot topics (Eg: Brexit, Trump’s Diplomacy, Syrian War, Belt and Road Initiative)

- Prepare a notebook to jot down useful notes. They may become useful in the future when you make applications!

- When dealing with commercial problems, it is very important to put yourself into shoes of all the parties involved. What does each party want to achieve?

In the short two-hour session, a senior associate who specializes in banking litigation gave us a lecture on the life cycle of a company. He went through all the different stages a company might go through from the setting up a new company to selling the company to investing a new start-up. For each process, he introduced some useful commercial jargon and explained how the law would be commercially applied to these situations.

In the lecture, the associate emphasized that it is very important to think critically in our daily lives of the implications of each action and observe how large companies operate if you were ever given the chance to do so. In addition to reading newspapers (eg: The Guardian, The Economists), it is equally important to look at the current market with a bigger picture and form an informed opinion on specific economic issues. Overall, the talk was very useful by giving out real-life examples of how we can apply the law we have learnt at the University in commercial situations.

Linklaters: Commercial Awareness Workshop

Key Takeaways:

- Always be active and engage in discussions. It is the best way to understand your strengths and weaknesses.

- Do not always look for a “textbook answer” in a problem question. It is better to think critically and present your ideas clearly.

- It is very important to continue developing your soft skills. They are very useful in the future.

I had a lot of fun in the workshop organized by the graduate recruitment team of Linklaters. We often hear the term “Commercial Awareness”, but what does it actually mean? It is not necessarily about knowing every business transactions that are going on right now. After attending the workshop, I would say commercial awareness is more about your general understanding of business and the role you play in the business market.

After a brief introduction of the law firm, we were introduced a problem question. What surprised me is that the problem question is not particularly complex in terms of the facts and the law involved. Rather than testing your legal knowledge, these problems were designed to enable you to showcase your critical thinking and communication skills.

Afterwards, we have a great opportunity to deliver a presentation with four team members that I have previously not met. We had to address different problems concerning a merger of a fictitious company within three minutes. It was a great challenge, but the workshop was greatly rewarding. All the activities we were asked to complete were typical of those we would have to go through in assessment centers at law firms.

What Should You Do?

If you would like to pursue a career as a solicitor, use your every opportunity to go to workshops and presentations hosted by commercial law firms. Not only would you be able to learn practical knowledge from aspiring lawyers, it will put you into advantage in your CV, especially if you are applying for a vacation scheme/training scheme at the law firm who organized the workshop. It is an excellent way to show your interest in the legal field and also the firm itself.

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