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Commercial awareness and reading the news

lawnoob

Esteemed Member
Premium Member
Jan 15, 2021
81
58
Hi everyone, I've been struggling with being up to date on the news and expanding my commercial awareness.
I get overwhelmed by the amount of daily news, it takes up a lot of my time to read all the news updates, and I fail to recall most of what I've read after.

How do you approach reading the news?
Would you suggest reading just the big news summaries once a week?
Do you pick a certain practice area you are interested in and mostly focus on that area of deals/firm updates?
Do you focus on one specific firm? How do you manage to remember cases?
For an AC, how many news stories would you prepare?

While I read, I do think about how the news is relevant to law, the clients, etc. What are some ways I can make sure I am hitting the right ideas?
 
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shannontongg

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  • Oct 3, 2021
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    One thing to note is that you are not expected to be aware of every daily news story, or to memorise the details of many stories. What is more important is developing an ability to think commercially, which is thinking about how the news is relevant to firms and clients as you have mentioned, and just being aware generally as to what is going on in the world.

    If you are finding it overwhelming, I don't see anything wrong with reviewing once a week as you have suggested. In fact, this might be preferable as you can sit down for longer and focus on the biggest/most relevant stories only. It may also be more time efficient if you can review all of the developments of a certain story in one go, rather than reviewing over and over as things change on a daily basis.

    I wouldn't recommend focusing only on one practice area. I personally think it is good to have a broader understanding of current events and that having a wider overview can help you develop your commercial thinking faster. I would therefore suggest spending time understanding both general events, and the events that specifically impact your target firms/areas of interest.

    In terms of approaches to staying updated, you could think about the ways you enjoy consuming content and what you find easiest to digest. I personally love podcasts, and there are tons of daily news podcasts out there (BBC Wake Up To Money is my favourite - they break things down and explain how stories impact individuals/businesses). I find it easier to fit a podcast into my day, instead of sitting down to read a news website. Other formats may include YouTube videos or following other news platforms on Twitter/Instagram. You should also follow prominent people in your practice areas of interest on LinkedIn - lawyers often share their comments via LinkedIn posts.

    To see if you are hitting the right ideas, you can brainstorm the implications of a news story independently first, then check this against the commentary online (i.e. TCLA commercial awareness articles, articles on firm websites, Lexology). You may find that other sources will raise new points for you to consider. Discussion with peers is also a really good way to see if you are thinking along the right lines and exchange ideas. You could try form a group with others who are interested in developing their commercial awareness and hold e.g. monthly discussions, or discuss on the TCLA commercial awareness threads.

    Also, if you are doing what I outlined in the above paragraph, you are learning how to analyse the facts from a commercial perspective, so even if you can't remember these stories again in a months' time, you will have still gained something from doing this analysis.

    For an AC, I would probably prepare 2 to 3 which are relevant to the firm/of interest to me, although I'm sure other members of the forum can weigh in on this with what they think is best!

    Let me know if this helps :)
     
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    Abii

    Legendary Member
    Feb 1, 2021
    233
    676
    Hey,

    keeping up with every bit of news is impossible and I can understand why that would be overwhelming.

    I used to listen to posdcasts such as those suggested above when commuting to work, however now I wfh I don’t have that opportunity to fit it into my day.

    Instead now I watch the news as I am eating breakfast and I read Watson’s daily, then any particular stories that interest me from that I read in further depth. The monthly review zoom Watson’s daily does is great as well!
     
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    AvniD

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    Oct 25, 2021
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    The best thing you can do to feel less overwhelmed by commercial news and also increase your recall is to focus on quality over quantity.

    You don't need to spend more than 15-30 minutes reading news everyday. What you do need to do for every news story you read, however, is understand the core commercial and legal issue(s) that's being discussed ➡️ what any numbers mean for the economy and any sectors in play (so y% increase in oil prices translates into higher costs for certain industries like aviation, manufacturing etc.) ➡️ what lawyers and law firms can do for any clients that may be impacted (possibly renegotiating contracts, advising them on any obligations that arise as a result of such price changes and what the client can do about them etc.).

    Even if you're able to apply the above structure for 1-2 news stories a day, you're good because you've learnt how to think like a commercial lawyer rather than just rote-learn a bunch of news stories.

    I would suggest using either TCLA's newsletter and commercial stories, Watson's Daily or the Financial Times to help with building commercial awareness in this manner. You can also make a word doc with 2-3 commercial news stories that really interest you and keep adding to them as time passes and new developments occur.

    I hope this helps!
     

    lawnoob

    Esteemed Member
    Premium Member
    Jan 15, 2021
    81
    58
    One thing to note is that you are not expected to be aware of every daily news story, or to memorise the details of many stories. What is more important is developing an ability to think commercially, which is thinking about how the news is relevant to firms and clients as you have mentioned, and just being aware generally as to what is going on in the world.

    If you are finding it overwhelming, I don't see anything wrong with reviewing once a week as you have suggested. In fact, this might be preferable as you can sit down for longer and focus on the biggest/most relevant stories only. It may also be more time efficient if you can review all of the developments of a certain story in one go, rather than reviewing over and over as things change on a daily basis.

    I wouldn't recommend focusing only on one practice area. I personally think it is good to have a broader understanding of current events and that having a wider overview can help you develop your commercial thinking faster. I would therefore suggest spending time understanding both general events, and the events that specifically impact your target firms/areas of interest.

    In terms of approaches to staying updated, you could think about the ways you enjoy consuming content and what you find easiest to digest. I personally love podcasts, and there are tons of daily news podcasts out there (BBC Wake Up To Money is my favourite - they break things down and explain how stories impact individuals/businesses). I find it easier to fit a podcast into my day, instead of sitting down to read a news website. Other formats may include YouTube videos or following other news platforms on Twitter/Instagram. You should also follow prominent people in your practice areas of interest on LinkedIn - lawyers often share their comments via LinkedIn posts.

    To see if you are hitting the right ideas, you can brainstorm the implications of a news story independently first, then check this against the commentary online (i.e. TCLA commercial awareness articles, articles on firm websites, Lexology). You may find that other sources will raise new points for you to consider. Discussion with peers is also a really good way to see if you are thinking along the right lines and exchange ideas. You could try form a group with others who are interested in developing their commercial awareness and hold e.g. monthly discussions, or discuss on the TCLA commercial awareness threads.

    Also, if you are doing what I outlined in the above paragraph, you are learning how to analyse the facts from a commercial perspective, so even if you can't remember these stories again in a months' time, you will have still gained something from doing this analysis.

    For an AC, I would probably prepare 2 to 3 which are relevant to the firm/of interest to me, although I'm sure other members of the forum can weigh in on this with what they think is best!

    Let me know if this helps :)
    Hey Shannon, thank you for this in-depth breakdown :) You're right about reading different practice areas and not just one, I think I'll keep doing that, thanks for the advice! This is great reassurance and pointing me in the right direction. I also enjoyed your TCLA takeover on instagram too ^_^
     

    lawnoob

    Esteemed Member
    Premium Member
    Jan 15, 2021
    81
    58
    Hey,

    keeping up with every bit of news is impossible and I can understand why that would be overwhelming.

    I used to listen to posdcasts such as those suggested above when commuting to work, however now I wfh I don’t have that opportunity to fit it into my day.

    Instead now I watch the news as I am eating breakfast and I read Watson’s daily, then any particular stories that interest me from that I read in further depth. The monthly review zoom Watson’s daily does is great as well!
    I wish I could be the type of person who could listen on a commute but I struggle with podcasts because I start to zone out about 10 minutes in :/
    Watson's daily is great though! But it's always 1am in my timezone when his recaps happen :((((
     

    lawnoob

    Esteemed Member
    Premium Member
    Jan 15, 2021
    81
    58
    The best thing you can do to feel less overwhelmed by commercial news and also increase your recall is to focus on quality over quantity.

    You don't need to spend more than 15-30 minutes reading news everyday. What you do need to do for every news story you read, however, is understand the core commercial and legal issue(s) that's being discussed ➡️ what any numbers mean for the economy and any sectors in play (so y% increase in oil prices translates into higher costs for certain industries like aviation, manufacturing etc.) ➡️ what lawyers and law firms can do for any clients that may be impacted (possibly renegotiating contracts, advising them on any obligations that arise as a result of such price changes and what the client can do about them etc.).

    Even if you're able to apply the above structure for 1-2 news stories a day, you're good because you've learnt how to think like a commercial lawyer rather than just rote-learn a bunch of news stories.

    I would suggest using either TCLA's newsletter and commercial stories, Watson's Daily or the Financial Times to help with building commercial awareness in this manner. You can also make a word doc with 2-3 commercial news stories that really interest you and keep adding to them as time passes and new developments occur.

    I hope this helps!
    I like the way you've broken down the thought process in digesting an article, this really helps. Gathering everything on a a doc is good too instead of just thinking about it in my head! Thanks for the advice and reminder that I don't need to be reading for ages everyday @AvniD :)
     
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    AvniD

    Legendary Member
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    Oct 25, 2021
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    I like the way you've broken down the thought process in digesting an article, this really helps. Gathering everything on a a doc is good too instead of just thinking about it in my head! Thanks for the advice and reminder that I don't need to be reading for ages everyday @AvniD :)
    Glad to be of help! You've got this!
     
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    George Maxwell

    Legendary Member
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    Junior Lawyer 50
    Oct 25, 2021
    545
    1,048
    Hi everyone, I've been struggling with being up to date on the news and expanding my commercial awareness.
    I get overwhelmed by the amount of daily news, it takes up a lot of my time to read all the news updates, and I fail to recall most of what I've read after.

    How do you approach reading the news?
    Would you suggest reading just the big news summaries once a week?
    Do you pick a certain practice area you are interested in and mostly focus on that area of deals/firm updates?
    Do you focus on one specific firm? How do you manage to remember cases?
    For an AC, how many news stories would you prepare?

    While I read, I do think about how the news is relevant to law, the clients, etc. What are some ways I can make sure I am hitting the right ideas?
    Hey @lawnoob,

    I have recommended this elsewhere on the forum, but I use Watson's Daily for keeping up with current affairs.

    I read through Peter's newsletter each day over a morning coffee. He provides a fantastic breakdown of various news stories each weekday. He writes in a very engaging and easily digestible way too. Going beyond Peter's daily news summary is definitely a good idea, but reading Watson's Daily (owing to the format etc) is easy to bake into your day and is something I genuinely enjoy doing as part of my routine 🚀
     

    shannontongg

    Active Member
    Gold Member
    Premium Member
    Trainee
    Junior Lawyer 10
  • Oct 3, 2021
    19
    65
    Hey Shannon, thank you for this in-depth breakdown :) You're right about reading different practice areas and not just one, I think I'll keep doing that, thanks for the advice! This is great reassurance and pointing me in the right direction. I also enjoyed your TCLA takeover on instagram too ^_^
    You're welcome! It's always good to check that you are heading in the right direction. Thank you so much for your kind words on my TCLA day in the life video, I have to credit the TCLA team for the brilliant idea :)
     

    Sweety_512

    Active Member
    Mar 6, 2022
    18
    7
    This is something that i am really struggling with aswell and its driving me crazy! I really don't understand how to link the news to a law firm. And this is worrying me for if/ when I get asked to explain this in an interview.

    I've read so much news, listened to various podcasts, watched loads of youtube videos, subscribed to various news roundups etc and I just don't know what to do with all this information 😩

    I just don't understand it at all and feel like this is going to let me down on getting anywhere in law - I'm feeling very deflated!
     

    IT7

    Star Member
  • Jun 23, 2021
    41
    35
    @George Maxwell @AvniD Thank you for your advice on this thread, it's been very helpful. I had an additional question though. Very often when I read the news, it's tough to recall what I've read a few days later, or apply it to a certain application. I tried the technique of thinking about how the article would impact lawyers/practice areas, but that too didn't help much with retaining the information.

    Do you have any tips for remembering the news you read/listen to? I was considering taking notes or making a list of articles I read, but that was extremely time-consuming, and it felt almost like I was rote-learning the articles. Is note-taking something you'd recommend, or do you have any other suggestions?
     
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    George Maxwell

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    Junior Lawyer 50
    Oct 25, 2021
    545
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    @George Maxwell @AvniD Thank you for your advice on this thread, it's been very helpful. I had an additional question though. Very often when I read the news, it's tough to recall what I've read a few days later, or apply it to a certain application. I tried the technique of thinking about how the article would impact lawyers/practice areas, but that too didn't help much with retaining the information.

    Do you have any tips for remembering the news you read/listen to? I was considering taking notes or making a list of articles I read, but that was extremely time-consuming, and it felt almost like I was rote-learning the articles. Is note-taking something you'd recommend, or do you have any other suggestions?
    Hey @IT7,

    I completely understand this feeling. Especially when you have been reading a lot of news articles, this can feel frustrating.

    I have a couple of things to say on this:

    1. You are likely to have remembered more than you think. I always find that recalling what you have read from a standing start is harder than using it in a discussion. I often find that questions trigger things I have read, making recall much easier! If you can, find someone to discuss a news story with. I used to do this with my Dad. This was useful for two reasons: firstly, he would challenge my thoughts which was helpful in developing my thoughts on the subject and secondly, I found that after discussing a topic out loud, my recall was far better than it was after just reading about it.

    2. Follow your interest. You are likely to remember things that you are genuinely interested in far more than news stories that you are reading for the sake of it.

    3. Taking (some) notes is a very good idea. I had a book that I wrote particular reflections from articles in. I also kept a few articles that I thought were particularly interesting/well-written in a file and I read them the day before/day of my interview.

    4. I would consider subscribing to Watson's Daily. I am still a subscriber myself purely because I think what Peter does is fantastic. He writes a summary of the day's news in a really engaging and easily digested way that is perfect for interview preparation.

    5. Give yourself a break. No-one can work without a break and having time off will give your mind time to process what you are reading.

    It sounds like you are doing all the right things though IT7, so have faith that the work will pay off. I am certain that you will have retained more than you think from reading.

    Let me know what you think about the above. More than happy to answer any follow-ups that you might have too 💪
     

    IT7

    Star Member
  • Jun 23, 2021
    41
    35
    Hey @IT7,

    I completely understand this feeling. Especially when you have been reading a lot of news articles, this can feel frustrating.

    I have a couple of things to say on this:

    1. You are likely to have remembered more than you think. I always find that recalling what you have read from a standing start is harder than using it in a discussion. I often find that questions trigger things I have read, making recall much easier! If you can, find someone to discuss a news story with. I used to do this with my Dad. This was useful for two reasons: firstly, he would challenge my thoughts which was helpful in developing my thoughts on the subject and secondly, I found that after discussing a topic out loud, my recall was far better than it was after just reading about it.

    2. Follow your interest. You are likely to remember things that you are genuinely interested in far more than news stories that you are reading for the sake of it.

    3. Taking (some) notes is a very good idea. I had a book that I wrote particular reflections from articles in. I also kept a few articles that I thought were particularly interesting/well-written in a file and I read them the day before/day of my interview.

    4. I would consider subscribing to Watson's Daily. I am still a subscriber myself purely because I think what Peter does is fantastic. He writes a summary of the day's news in a really engaging and easily digested way that is perfect for interview preparation.

    5. Give yourself a break. No-one can work without a break and having time off will give your mind time to process what you are reading.

    It sounds like you are doing all the right things though IT7, so have faith that the work will pay off. I am certain that you will have retained more than you think from reading.

    Let me know what you think about the above. More than happy to answer any follow-ups that you might have too 💪
    This is extremely helpful @George Maxwell, thank you so much for taking out time to answer this, I really appreciate it! I'll definitely work on these techniques in the future!!
     
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    AvniD

    Legendary Member
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    Premium Member
    Oct 25, 2021
    538
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    @George Maxwell @AvniD Thank you for your advice on this thread, it's been very helpful. I had an additional question though. Very often when I read the news, it's tough to recall what I've read a few days later, or apply it to a certain application. I tried the technique of thinking about how the article would impact lawyers/practice areas, but that too didn't help much with retaining the information.

    Do you have any tips for remembering the news you read/listen to? I was considering taking notes or making a list of articles I read, but that was extremely time-consuming, and it felt almost like I was rote-learning the articles. Is note-taking something you'd recommend, or do you have any other suggestions?
    @IT7 @George Maxwell has given you fantastic advice and the only thing I'd add to that is try explaining what you read to a friend or family, or (I know this sounds weird but swear it works) talk yourself through it while looking in the mirror or record yourself talking about it and play it back. Focus on what the main commercial issues are and what legal solutions you could use for them. Also focus on how the news story impacts law firms and the industry at large as well and this way you'll remember the news story's impact even if you forget the details- which issue what counts! Let us know how you get on! 😊
     

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