City law firm finally realises that trainees don’t know what ‘commercial awareness’ is

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By Judge John Hack on

Hogan Lovells in bid to explain mythical concept to new recruits


Transatlantic global giant Hogan Lovells is bidding to boost the business savvy of its junior lawyers — amid mounting concerns that vocational training is falling down on the teaching of commercial awareness.

The firm announced simultaneously in London and Washington at the end of last week the launch of a “business social enterprise training programme”, which will kick off on this side of the Atlantic next month.

The move to turn its solicitors into mini-Lord Alan Sugars involves the programme providing a combination of practical business training with the opportunity to advise small businesses directly.

According to the firm, solicitors on the programme will gain a fast track understanding of non-legal business topics such as revenue streams, equity and debt financing, risk, and compliance.

Trainees will also apparently learn how to advise a business in practice, such as developing a business plan and identifying legal risks, and learn about the impact of social enterprise. They will be paired with a small business to provide hands-on advice through a half-day supervised workshop.

The training will be provided in-house at the firm in conjunction with advice from two social entrepreneur networks and investors, Ashoka and UnLtd. Corporate partner Nicola Evans said that the initiative will boost rookie lawyers’ confidence, telling Legal Cheek:

“The programme will provide our lawyers with an understanding of business fundamentals and the importance of social impact to the way our clients do business. It will produce lawyers who are confident and entrepreneurial, who understand the importance of client relationships, and who understand that commerciality, social impact and economic return go hand-in-hand”.

The move comes against mounting concern that the Legal Practice Course (LPC) is not sufficiently business-focused. Several big City of London law firms have insisted course providers create bespoke versions of the LPC with enhanced business components.

Indeed, the two big vocational course players have attempted to respond. Last March, the University of Law launched a joint venture with Liverpool University to run a law with business and management course, while BPP Law School incorporates courses from its own business school into its LPC.