What's the first thing you think when you hear the word "flotation"?
1) Mystical music and dolphin noises.
2) The financial markets going up and down.
3) A company listing its shares for sale on a stock market for the first time.
You're working on an agreement by which a client will purchase a foreign business. But on the news, you see there's rioting in the country where this business is located. Do you:
1) Cross that country off your list of possible holiday destinations.
2) Stop working - the client won't want to go ahead with the deal now.
3) Call the client to discuss the situation.
The deal is happening, and there's a possibility that a small unexpected tax charge may be made - but you're not sure. Do you:
1) Ignore it.
2) Spend the rest of the day trying to work out whether or not the charge will be payable.
3) Speak to a colleague in tax, then email the client telling them it's a possibility, but that they shouldn't worry too much about it as it's financially very small.
How clued-up with technology do commercial lawyers need to be?
1) Those long hours in the office must mean that a high level of proficiency with Facebook socialising and internet shopping is essential.
2) Most partners at commercial law firms seem to like being surrounded by piles of legal books, so not very.
3) Technology is affecting every area of business, and there's no reason why law should be an exception.
Work on the deal is done! The partner you've been working with asks if you want to come for a drink with the client to discuss their next deal. How do you react?
1) No, thanks - you've worked hard on this deal and now it's over you're planning to see your friends.
2) You politely decline - time to get on with that other work you've been neglecting.
3) You agree to go - first checking you have no urgent work on your plate, and arranging to see your friends a bit later.
Your commercial awareness is very low at the moment, so you have some work to do. Find out about the business world, start fitting in what you're learning with what you know about what commercial lawyers do, and don't forget to use your common sense!
You're a hard worker, and you're trying to be businesslike. But being commercially aware is tricky, and you still have a bit further to go. Keep reading, keep talking to people in the business and legal worlds, and don't be afraid to sit back and think laterally sometimes.
You have an excellent knowledge of the business world and how the work of law firms fits in, and a good sense of what to prioritise to get the most value out of a situation for your clients, your firm and your own career. But remember commercial awareness is an ongoing process, so don't stop now!