If you’re a law student, in the middle of a training contract or vacation scheme applications, or currently on a scheme, it’s inevitable that the importance of commercial awareness has been drummed into you since you started your legal journey. But why does it matter so much? That’s what this article is here to tell you! 

First of all, any good lawyer needs to understand the ins and outs of their client’s business in order to advise them in the most effective way. Clients don’t just want a lawyer who only has expertise in the law itself; they want someone who understands the wider market and can provide well-informed guidance. Having an awareness of current economic and social affairs, then being able to think broadly about how business problems might be solved is an important step in being able to thrive as a lawyer. As a result of this, the only way you can display your commitment and ability to become a well-rounded lawyer in assessment days and interviews is through improving your commercial awareness. So; how can you do this? 

Watching the News/Newspapers

Perhaps one of the most obvious ways you can improve your commercial awareness is simply by tuning into the news each day, or following news-related accounts on social media such as Twitter or Facebook. The BBC is a great place to start; BBCs 1 and 2 have a variety of business-related stories and updates that are accessible to everyone. Channel 4 is also an excellent resource, allowing a more detailed insight into current affairs. Bloomberg TV also provides an excellent insight into updates from Silicon Valley. It’s worth following these accounts on social media for a bitesize update into relevant stories. Reading the Financial Times, the Economist and other such economically-focused newspapers are essential for developing your business understanding.

Working/Gaining Knowledge about Commercial Topics in a Practical Aspect

One of the best ways of understanding commercial topics is by becoming immersed in the business world itself. This isn’t to say you have to immediately get a financial internship in the City; (although experience like that is always a plus!) this can be as simple as something like working in a small business, being a treasurer for a society at your university, taking an interest in company accounts; essentially understanding how to make and handle money. Many students will have worked in a shop or a bar before, and make the mistake of thinking this isn’t relevant to their legal career; any experience is good experience, and if you have learned something through it like finding a solution to a commercial problem, this can only add to your commercial awareness.

Law Pages/Law Blogs

A great resource for aspiring lawyers is specifically legally-focused pages and blogs. Legal Week, The Lawyer, The Law Society Gazette, UKSC blog, Legal Business and Lexis Nexis are particularly good places to start. These will be short, straight to the point articles that are easy to digest. Some law blogs, particularly those run by other students are also a great place to look; you can often interact with these bloggers and gain valuable insight from them, which is something not possible to do with bigger news outlets. You should also not underestimate the value of blogs on the websites of the firms you’re interested in; these can provide a fantastic insight into commercial news that is focused towards the sectors you are most attracted to. You’ll be able to understand big commercial stories in a legally focused way, and understand how specific firms apply their legal expertise to their client’s commercial issues. You should sign up for the mailing list for firms you’re interested in to get updates on cases or deals they have recently been involved in; these will give you perfect material to talk about in interviews.


Podcasts are underrated in terms of gaining commercial awareness; they offer anything from snapshots of important business news in 10 minute run-throughs, to focused insight into specific commercial affairs in longer, hour long offerings. Some of the best podcasts for aspiring lawyers include More From Law, which allows a more comprehensive understanding of the legal industry through interviews, discussion of particular sectors and deep dive-analysis. Commercial Awareness with Watson’s Daily is a great resource for getting a run-through of the weekly business news and its implications. Money Talks is potentially one of the best podcasts around, providing fantastic insights into the economy and the world of business from global experts. The FT News Briefing is a great podcast for a quick daily briefing on the most important global business stories, providing a 10 minute glimpse at some essential financial affairs. Bright Network also has a Thinking Commercially podcast, which are only released once per month but are amazing for a detailed understanding of the business world, and in developing your way of thinking about particular legal sectors. Radio 4 has a business podcast that is perfect for a daily run-down. Many law firms have also begun to offer their own podcasts, which, like their blogs, are a great way of understanding their specific sectors and what life at their firm is like.

Email Listings

Lastly; email listings are a fantastic way of ensuring you are always remaining on top of essential business news. If you just want to get a quick insight into daily business affairs, this is the resource for you. Finimize, The Lawyer and The Brief are all excellent; subscribing to these will allow you to boost your legal awareness every time you check your inbox.

By Victoria McCarron