By Bea Pelingen
Commercial awareness. We hear that phrase thrown around by career advisors, firms, and head-hunters a lot. But how does one sift through the myriad of global events to focus on the most important ones? Recent Durham University Graduates Saffron-Lucia Gilbert-Kaluba (left) and Ellie Nikolova (right) have provided a solution through the Corporate Law Journal. Founded in 2018 during their first year of undergraduate studies, the Corporate Law Journal has expanded immensely since then. Beginning as Ellie and Saffron’s brunch idea, it has grown into a company with a working team of more than thirty professionals, lawyers, and students and a newly published book, The Corporate Law Guide.
Ellie, a business graduate who is now focusing on her Graduate Diploma in Law, explains that the Corporate Law Journal “is a platform where news and issues are more easily understandable for people who do not understand what is going on in the industry sometimes. The main point that was missing whilst I was a student, was the fact that when you go to interviews, you are told commercial awareness is important and it is key. So, people assume that they only need to read the news and remember current events. However, that is not what it means. Commercial awareness requires reading about what is going on in industries and the corporate world, and you have to apply it to the law. Likewise, you need to be able to apply it to the client and the industry that you are going to be working in as a lawyer. That kind of information was lacking for me.”
Saffron, a law graduate, adds that “not everyone has the time to not only go through publications like The Economist and The Financial Times where the articles are quite long but also understanding their contents. So, we thought that there was nothing that provided succinct commercial awareness information.” Both founders identified that present sources tailored to help students merely offered general information and advice. Instead, the Corporate Law Journal and its team seek to present and evaluate the root of issues at hand whilst giving a ‘legal edge’ to it.
By focusing on politics, technology, finance, and environmental consciousness, the Corporate Law Journal also fits the needs of non-law students. “I think a common mistake— which we do not scream from the rooftop— is someone might think about us that ‘oh this is just a law journal just to talk about law and how to get into law’. No. Essentially, our business model is not to be like that. Our business model is to be a news and media organisation which provides as much news as we can.” Saffron comments.
Moreover, The Corporate Law Journal Guide is distinct from the blog by offering curtailed insights on different legal and business sectors. According to Ellie, “the book covers many business and finance principles. That is the anatomy of a deal. Also, it includes application advice: starting from cover letters, written answers, interview questions, vacation schemes, post-vacation schemes – everything you will need in one place. Things that, when I was applying, were in shambles. It was so difficult to find— let alone find that information and all in one place.” What makes the book special is that it goes an extra mile and covers the application of the law and how it affects businesses, clients, sectors, and industries. “I feel that is one of the things that our book wanted to focus on, specifically compiling in one place all of the necessities that you would be using and needing when you are going through that application process,” she adds.
Most importantly, Ellie and Saffron both understand the frustration of students everywhere to gain valuable and professional information in the commercial field. Ellie notes: “I think coming from Durham University, it is quite easy to forget that we do have quite a lot of privileged information, whether that be our Law Society or from our Careers sector. But for other students around the country applying, that is not the case. We wanted to create something that had this privileged information including advice from actual trainees, future trainees and people who have had insight into that world but for less than £5.” The Corporate Law Journal Guide is the product of such an initiative.
Finally, Saffron states: “We are always open to writers if they want to write for the journal or join. They can reach us through our email firstname.lastname@example.org and send in a 300–500-word preliminary article and their CV. Ellie and I can then get to interview them. We are always looking for writers. As a company, we have expanded greatly, so we are also open to people to do social media if they want to join the media team. Furthermore, we are trying to introduce a video platform and attach it to the Corporate Law Journal. We are always open to people joining in. If they have a talent that could work well with the Corporate Law Journal, we are always happy to talk.”
Image credits: Saffron-Lucia Gilbert-Kaluba and Ellie Nikolova via LinkedIn