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Norton Rose Fulbright lawyers field financial and legal news questions from 40 students

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Inaugural Commercial Awareness Question Time takes place at London office of global firm

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Three solicitors at Norton Rose Fulbright have helped students to develop their commercial awareness at a free event covering hot topics in the financial and legal news.

Banking partner Dan Metcalfe, competition law associate Amanda Town and asset finance newly qualified solicitor Tom Capel fielded questions on, among other things, the Chinese slowdown, the Greek debt crisis and innovation in the legal market.

The 40 strong audience was made up of wannabe lawyers who submitted their CVs and two questions each for the panel about topical issues. Legal Cheek editor Alex Aldridge chaired the discussion — about which some reflections can be viewed in the video below.

Highlights included Metcalfe’s tales from the frontline on the rock bottom oil price — and how it wasn’t, as some of the audience had expected, leading to a boom in renewables investment. He explained:

With energy being one of our headline key industry strengths, we advise not only on oil and gas work but also renewables projects. The falling oil price has created both challenges and opportunities, but it hasn’t had a particular impact on renewables, which tend to be quite expensive to develop and are driven more by social and environmental factors rather than the price of oil or gas.

Meanwhile, Town provided some fascinating insights about working on EU competition law at a time of European political upheaval. Would her job change if there was a “Brexit”? This is how she responded:

Initially I suppose there would an influx of advisory work as companies adjust to the new legal and commercial landscape, but beyond that on a day-to-day level it might not change as much as you would think. After all, if a UK company sold products into Europe they would still be subject to EU law. The only thing that will immediately change is that the UK would remain subject to the burdens of compliance with EU laws and regulation and lose the benefits of having a say on those laws. Certainly, though, there would be wider implications which would only become fully apparent over time.

Finally, Capel explained how it was important to understand that commercial awareness is vital for providing a proper service to a client, but also to spotting new opportunities for the practice. He noted that it is particularly important to demonstrate you understand these two layers of commercial awareness at interview. Discussing Norton Rose Fulbright’s increasing focus on Latin America, he told the audience:

On one level, it is about understanding the regulatory and business environment facing our clients in a jurisdiction, but on the other you need to understand that the practice is a business in itself and think about why it is looking to enter a particularly market. Ultimately the two work together: to realise our commercial goals we have to help clients achieve theirs.

Keep an eye on the Legal Cheek Hub for details of our next Commercial Awareness Question Time.

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