Commercial awareness - pot luck

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  • Steer clear of subjects you don't like/don't know much about/are not relevant to the type of firm you are applying for.

    It is easier to speak about a subject which truly interests you than a subject which bores you to tears. This is easier to do for an application form but unfortunately it is pot luck when it comes to interviews. I remember a telephone interview I had a few years ago and I was praying that I didn't have to speak about the debt crisis in Greece as a) it didn't interest me and b) I didn't really understand it. And guess what I had to speak about! If they had allowed me to speak about developments in the Energy sector then I probably would have done a lot better and been invited back for a second interview!

    Also bear in mind the type of firm you are applying to. For example, the introduction of ABSs may have important ramifications for some firms but are unlikely to bother MC or City firms as the types of work they do are not likely to be done by Tesco or Co-op. Also think about your chosen firm's clients - what is going on in their industry? Is this going to change the way they do business and if so, how can your chosen law firm assist them and support them? Will it change how your chosen law firm does business with that client?

    In terms of controversy I think you can mention a deal that hasn't gone well as long as you can identify why it went wrong and what you think would have been a better way to structure the deal. Do not, under any circumstances, talk about bad deals that your chosen law firm has been involved with.

    If things change between the application form stage and the interview stage then just be ready to comment on those changes and be able to explain the ramifications of those changes.

    It is difficult to suggest "safe" options without knowing the type of firm you are applying for. General topics could be: the Jackson reform, ABSs and the commiditisation of legal services, the recession and its impact on law firms and their clients, high profile insolvency cases and the reasons for that insolvency e.g. HMV.

    Good luck!

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  • Agree with Rachel above, except on one key point; the Jackson Reforms, ABS' and the commercialisation/commoditisation of legal services won't interest commercial firms in detail. Just be aware of what they are and that will in all likelihood cover what you need. These things affect more high-street types of practice such as family, criminal and low-end civil litigation (e.g. RTA).

    Equally, if there is something going on which majorly affects the commercial world - such as the triple-dip recession - which you know about but are not interested in/do not understand then you will have to suck it up and research - do not raise the topic yourself but have a basic awareness if nothing else. Then try to bring the subject gently back around to what you do know about/are interested in if you can.

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  • Try not to worry too much about you "think" they want you to say.

    This may help.

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