in Interviews, Training Contracts, Pupillage and Work Experience

Business Acumen

Business Acumen – what’s it all about?

This term comes up quite often in legal job interviews, whether for training contracts or qualified solicitor roles. But what exactly does it mean? In reality, not a lot!

The usual question is along the lines of “can you give an example of when you have had to demonstrate business acumen in a legal, commercial setting or otherwise”. You then start to waffle about your student days and when you saved the hang gliding club 30p by introducing more efficient advertising on beer mats.

What the law firms are looking for (we think) are demonstrations where you have understood the reality of the legal profession.

The law is all about money – law firms are there to make money, and to gain business acumen you simply have to understand this fact – it is not a dirty word, nor is it some sort of immoral side to the business.

The reality is that law firms, partners, solicitors and assistant solicitors together with any other fee earners are exactly that – fee earners. When they work on a case, they are generating income.

Have a read of John Grisham “The Firm” to understand this further – it will help you answer the question I think. If you have never had any involvement in running a business before, it is probably worth thinking about it now – setting up a business is one of the best ways to gain an understanding as to what it is all about!

Watch the video above for further advice and information about business acumen.

Jonathan Fagan

Jonathan Fagan LLM FIRP is Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment. He has been recruiting solicitors and legal support staff for law firms and in house legal departments for over 20 years and handles roles from junior fee earners through to partners and law firm sales/purchases. A non-practising solicitor on the Roll since 2000, he is also the author of a number of legal career books, which are available at You can contact Jonathan at