Commercial awareness and the law student journey into the legal profession – definitional challenges and the lived experience of the graduate interview

Siobhan McConnell*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Commercial awareness is a graduate employability skill that is highly valued by law firms, particularly the larger commercial law firms that dominate recruitment into the legal profession. However, it is a skill that students may struggle to understand and to demonstrate during the graduate recruitment process. This article examines the role of commercial awareness at a crucial point in the law student journey into the legal profession – the law firm graduate interview. This article presents data collected from an innovative two year mixed-methods research study involving law students at a post-92 university who were undergoing interviews with law firms. It provides insight into the ‘lived experience’ of the law firm interview from a student perspective by considering how and when commercial awareness is assessed and the challenges and opportunities assessment presents. This study furthers our limited understanding of how law students define commercial awareness, comparing those definitions to those employed by the legal profession and considering the disconnect between students and law firms. This article argues that, in the context of commercial awareness, there is more that law firms and law schools can do to better support law students seeking employment in the legal profession.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-215
Number of pages27
JournalInternational Journal of the Legal Profession
Issue number2
Early online date12 Jun 2023
Publication statusPublished - 2023

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