How to demonstrate commercial awareness when applying for a training contract or work placement

Posted by Melanie Christodoulou


Last week I provided a talk entitled : How to Demonstrate Commercial Awareness in Vacation Scheme/Training Contract Application Forms to Kent Student Law Society members at the University of Kent based on my experience as a Trainee Solicitor.

Why do you provide the talk and how long have you been doing it?

As University of Kent Alumni, I love being able to help Law students towards a career path in the legal profession.  Whilst I was at university, I was on the Kent Student Law Society Committee as the Commercial Awareness Officer for two years running.  I noticed how difficult it was to obtain lawyers to provide a talk to students.  Therefore, since graduating, I have promised to provide a talk each year on the importance of commercial awareness and how students can demonstrate this in their applications.  Furthermore, my experiences of vacation schemes/paid employment at seven other law firms before my training contract, hopefully means that my structured approach works.

Not only does the talk provide me with great satisfaction in being able to give something back to students, but is also a great opportunity to find “new talent” and encourage students to apply to Furley Page’s Summer Work Placement Scheme for undergraduates and Training Contract programmes.

What is included in the talk?

My talk is broken down into the following eight key areas:

  1. Whether the training contract is for you and what type of environment do you see yourself working in;
  2. The structure of the LPC;
  3. How to apply and when for a training contract;
  4. The Three P’s – what you need to do: “Prioritise, Plan and Prepare”;
  5. The Three C’s – what law firms want from you: “Competency, Compatibility and Commitment”;
  6. What law firms look for in an application – worked examples;
  7. How to demonstrate commercial awareness in application forms – worked examples; and
  8. Establishing why you are applying to the law firm.

What do the students get out of the talk?

My talk is now in its fourth year.  Attendance this year reached 40, with a mixture of all year groups.  From the talk, students:

  1. Begin to think about their future career and the type of law firm they wish to work for;
  2. Learn how to structure their application forms; and
  3. Learn the importance of commercial awareness and how this is obtained not merely from academics and legal experience, but also from their extra-curricular activities and any form of work experience.

For further details about a career in law and training with Furley Page visit our Careers section.

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