“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”– Dr Seuss.
When wanting to get started on developing your commercial awareness, it can be a little tricky figuring out which sources to turn to first. In this (non-exhaustive!) list, I’ve outlined some of my own personal favourite sources that I feel helped me build my commercial awareness habits. Enjoy!
LinkedIn Daily Rundown
This was my initial go-to source for keeping up with business developments. LinkedIn curate and publish a quick daily 5 minute breakdown of some of the most impactful happenings over the last day or so across a variety of topics. Whilst the industries and topics chosen can at times be extraneous to the world of commercial law, major news stories are nearly always covered and summarised in just a few sentences, with links to further reading and analysis.
Finimize drops a daily newsletter into your inbox which explains and summarises what’s happening in the world of finance and politics. It’s very handy for getting links to analysis on the latest news stories, with only 30 seconds of brief reading required by you once the email arrives. Plus, it’s completely free!
Lexology provides a number of resources, including a blog, conferences and events that are all geared towards keeping you updated in the legal world. Their website contains an immense number of articles (850k+), so you’re nearly always bound to find commentary on the topic you’re searching for.
All search engines share a number of common pitfalls that sites like Wikipedia have always faced, such as confirmation bias due to your search terms or not knowing where the information you find has been sourced from. Used effectively, however, search engines are an extremely powerful tool for subscribing to the latest developments in the commercial world, whilst being able to filter and add greater specificity to your search results. It can prove extremely useful when attempting to find out more about firms’ recent deals, as there will often be multiple news sources citing the relevant information. Browse wisely!
Whilst its language and format can be quite technical at times (pardon the pun), the FT provides unparalleled high-quality articles with some fantastic editorial insight.
A personal favourite of mine, The Economist covers a broad range of topics, articles and sectors in an enjoyable reading format.
Both the digital and print copies of Forbes cover a huge variety of topics, with all of the latest news updates and editorial commentaries you could want.
Law Firm Reports/Releases
Quite a lot of firms will often release annual, quarterly or monthly reports detailing their business performance over the last period. These often contain really useful statistics, such as their growth rates or trainee retention rates, whilst often featuring more in-depth articles on their notable deals and achievements. A great way to learn more about a specific firm.
Throughout my ‘Law in the Business Environment’ module at University, I was taught how firms operate as businesses and companies. Everything from profits through to leverage and business models to SWOT analysis can be learnt through the medium of textbooks and academic commentary. I’d personally recommend Christopher Stoakes and Stephen Mayson, who are both considered to be experts when it comes to the workings of firms. I’d recommend the following reading list of their books:
- C. Stoakes, Commercial Awareness (2015/16)
- C. Stoakes, All You Need to Know About Commercial Awareness (Longtail 2011/12)
- S. Mayson, Making Sense of Law Firms: Strategy, Structure & Ownership (Blackstone Press 1997)
- S. Mayson, Law Firm Strategy: Competitive Advantage and Valuation (OUP 2007)
The audiovisual format is increasing in popularity for educational content. Podcasts, documentaries, YouTube videos and live events are all an excellent medium for learning, either at home or even while on the move. I’ve curated some of my personal favourites of these audiovisual resources into a list below:
Spotify Podcasts (or Apple)
I love using Spotify or Apple podcasts, as they’re portable and can cover a broad variety of topics, length and styles. My personal favourites include:
- Trainee Talk (for example, how about the episode I’m on?) – https://soundcloud.com/traineetalk/episode-11-leveraging-your-unique-selling-points
- The Economist Week ahead – https://open.spotify.com/show/2ZFDmgDS2Z6xccP51s1zFQ
- The Bottom Line by BBC Radio 4 – https://open.spotify.com/show/4tnEpf6izermKcJMN2Wa2g
- Business Matters – https://open.spotify.com/show/0OqiJDSjtdVLAajbZwmeiz
- The More From Law podcast – not that I’m biased or anything…
Even 15 minutes of watching the news in the morning with breakfast can be a great habit to build for your commercial awareness. You’re able to see any breaking developments as they happen and each story can be quickly covered and summarised (often live from the event’s location) in a matter of minutes.
I hope the above helps – feel free to get in touch if you have any other recommendations to add to the list!