Commercial awareness: advice from a City lawyer

A senior lawyer at Ashurst explains how you can become more commercially aware

Luke McDougall is a senior associate at leading international law firm Ashurst. Here he explains what he thinks commercial awareness is, how you can build it as a student or graduate recruit, and how he stays commercially aware himself.

"I'm a senior associate in the Banking team at Ashurst, where I focus on acquisition deals. I was a trainee supervisor at Ashurst for a number of years, so I have a good idea of what we expect from the graduates who apply to join us in terms of commercial awareness.

"Commercial awareness is, in part, about having a sense of what's going on in the market, so reading the financial and business news is a great way to become more commercially aware, especially as a student.

"You should be thinking as you read about how what you're reading about fits into the business world and how firms you're interested in applying to will be involved or affected by it. There are some questions you should ask about every story you read in the business press:

  • How does what you're reading about fit in with other events or trends in the financial and business worlds that you're aware of?
  • How does what you're reading about fit in with what's going on in the economy?
  • How would people in various business roles, especially those at employers you're interested in applying to, be involved in what you're reading about?

"Commercial awareness is not just about knowledge, however. It's also about having a switched-on mind, which will help you make the most of your knowledge and abilities, and do a good job for your employer and your clients.

"To maintain my own commercial awareness I read the Financial Times and the Economist for general market knowledge, and specialised services Debtwire and Mergermarket for information specifically about the debt finance and M&A sectors.

"I also keep an eye on what's going on in the American debt markets, because the trend over the past decade has been that whatever happens in the US markets happens in the European ones fairly soon afterwards."

Recommended reading

Apply for a summer vacation scheme or training contract at Ashurst by visiting their graduate site.

Learn more about commercial awareness with this explanation from Christopher Stoakes, author of Know the city and Commercial Awareness, and consultant to global law firm Hogan Lovells.

Image: Gareth https://www.flickr.com/photos/trois-tetes/

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