An Exploration of the Role of Commercial Awareness in the Law Student Journey to Graduate Employment

McConnell, Siobhan (2024) An Exploration of the Role of Commercial Awareness in the Law Student Journey to Graduate Employment. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

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Commercial awareness is an employability skill that is required by a range of graduate employers. This doctorate explores and analyses the role of commercial awareness in the law student journey to graduate employment. Adopting a portfolio approach, where academic articles and teaching materials are drawn together by a connecting commentary, this research is underpinned by a systematic literature review and two mixed methods research studies set within a pragmatist research paradigm. The systematic review provided compelling evidence of the need for this research. The research studies, involving law students and teachers in a post-92 university, explored participant perceptions of the definition of commercial awareness, its importance and how commercial awareness is developed. One study considered law student perceptions of the role of commercial awareness in graduate interviews. The results revealed that, whilst commercial awareness is deemed a very important employability skill, law students may struggle to conceptualise commercial awareness. Their definitions often differed to those used by their teachers and those adopted by law firms. The law school had a role in developing law students’ commercial awareness but this was fairly limited – commercial awareness was more likely to be developed by independent student-led activities. This research provided rich and authentic insight into perceptions of the assessment of commercial awareness in graduate interviews, exploring if and how commercial awareness is assessed and finding that assessment presents both challenges and opportunities. This research makes important contributions to knowledge and academic practice. This research contends that the ongoing commercialisation of the legal profession is having a significant impact on law students, law schools and legal education. It argues that law schools must do more to assist law students in developing their commercial awareness. To help law schools in achieving this aim, this research offers a lawfocused definition of commercial awareness and an educational model that supports students in all aspects of their relationship with commercial awareness. By taking a student-centred approach that prioritises the law student voice and perspective, this doctorate offers fresh understanding of the experiences of post-92 law students as they engage with a complex employability skill in a changing and challenging graduate recruitment market.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Employability, Law School, Legal Education, Legal Profession, Graduate Interviews
Subjects: M100 Law by area
Department: Faculties > Business and Law > Northumbria Law School
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Depositing User: Rachel Branson
Date Deposited: 10 May 2024 11:15
Last Modified: 10 May 2024 11:30

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