A systematic review of commercial awareness in the context of the employability of law students in England and Wales

Siobhan McConnell*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Commercial awareness is identified by employers as an important and desirable graduate skill. The recruitment literature employed by many law firms in England and Wales indicates commercial awareness is required by law students to gain access to the legal profession. However, commercial awareness is a skill that many law students struggle to conceptualise and to demonstrate during the graduate recruitment process. This article presents the results of the first systematic review of the available literature on commercial awareness. The systematic review was driven by the growing importance of commercial awareness to law students, employers and universities. Although this article focuses on the position of law students based in England and Wales, it is anticipated that its findings will resonate with legal educators across Europe and beyond. This article considers the following key questions: What is commercial awareness? How important is it and why? How do students develop commercial awareness and can it be taught during their legal education? How can students demonstrate commercial awareness during the graduate recruitment process? This article highlights the key themes the review results presented, providing a suggested definition of commercial awareness and considering its growing importance to employers, students and law schools and the issues this creates. This article makes recommendations for legal educators as to how to support the development of commercial awareness in law school curricula and makes suggestions for further research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-175
Number of pages49
JournalEuropean Journal of Legal Education
Issue number1
Early online date24 May 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022


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