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10 Key skills & qualities you need to excel in Commercial Law

Book open Reading time: 3 mins

Commercial law firms are very clear on what they look for in their potential recruits, expecting applicants to have a consistent academic record and experience.

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But academic success is only half the story. Beyond your grades on paper, they also want to see a host of other qualities that set you apart. We've pulled together a list of the top 10 to help you on your way. 

1. Appropriate knowledge and motivation

Why do you want to pursue a career in commercial law? Have you actually researched the sector in sufficient depth and are you able to give reasons why you think this is the career route for you? Need to know more about areas such as dispute resolution? Click here

2. High ethical standards and an understanding of the role of law

You'll have been taught about this in your law degree, but you should do further reading around the topic to show you have a full understanding. If you are not studying law then you'll have to research this yourself. Here's a good place to start.

3. Self-confidence and good interpersonal skills

You may have this in spades but it is a good idea to have some extra-curricular activities on your CV which can prove this before the firm has had a chance to meet you.  Examples include leadership position in a society, debating/mooting or theatre productions.

Why you should consider a career in law

4. A variety of sustained interests which reveal a high level of achievement

Academics and an interest in the law are important but to get noticed you'll need to show a well-rounded interest in activities outside of this. Firms are looking to hire the best, most interesting and engaged individuals.

5. Initiative and responsibility

Compile a range of examples that can demonstrate both these skills. It is good to have a variety of examples - from university, work and social - that you can use in interviews and application processes.

A quick glance at a life in commercial law

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6. Commercial awareness

All law firms are businesses and their work revolves around supporting other businesses in solving commercial issues.  This is a non-negotiable and, unfortunately, an area where graduates tend to let themselves down. It is vital that you stay on top of current affairs and can demonstrate opinions on stories of interest to you. It is advisable to set up Google alerts for the firms you are considering so that you are notified as soon as a new story/deal is made public.

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7. Good negotiation and project management skills

A degree can equip you with this - as most involve group work at some point - but it is always a good idea to try and gain experience of this outside of your degree.

8. Attention to detail

This is expected of all trainee solicitors.  Top tip - make sure there are no errors in any of your application documents!  Even the slightest typo can work against you.

9. Knowledge of the firm and justification of your suitability for it

Why are you applying to one firm over another?  It is important to avoid template applications as firms pride themselves on what differentiates them from others.  This could be their specialities, culture, global reach, CSR policies.  It is important you do your research, figure out which would be best for you and, most importantly, have valid reasons for your choice.

Browse our top commercial law graduate employers.

10. Language skills are a plus

While not essential, this will help your application stand out.  So find ways during your time at university to maintain any that you acquired at school or through travelling. Want to get a headstart with your applications? Have a look at our legal CV templates

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Ready to take the leap into law? Explore available opportunities and take the first step towards a career in this exciting sector.