CAC 2018/19 Rules and Guidelines

Introduction

Thank you for considering entering the Aspiring Solicitors UK Commercial Awareness Competition 2019 (“the Competition”). The Competition is unique, CV blind and offers winners up to five legal work placements with Barclays Legal, Dechert, Mayer Brown, TLT and Travers Smith (as well as a bespoke suit and shirt each courtesy of LexisNexis).

It is essential that you read this document thoroughly before entering the Competition as it sets out important information about the format, rules and conditions of participation.

Please note that this year, all entrants register as individuals and you will not be required to form a team at any stage. Aspiring Solicitors will place entrants in teams at the Quarter Finals onwards.

This will ensure that the best performers reach the final of the Competition.

You must be an Aspiring Solicitors member and must be from at least one of the following underrepresented groups in the legal profession:

  • Black, Asian or minority ethnic; and/or
  • Socially mobile (at least two of the following should apply to you: primary carer; from a low income family, state school educated; first generation to attend university; refugee or been in local authority care); and/or
  • LGBT+; and/or
  • Disabled or have a long-term health condition.

You must also:

  • be an undergraduate; and/or
  • be a postgraduate; and/or
  • be a graduate (whether working or in education);
  • must not have secured a Training Contract offer; and
  • be based in the UK for the purposes of competing in person at the Quarter Final, Semi Final and Final rounds.

First year students are welcome and encouraged to participate.  In 2017/18, we had a number of first years go through to the Grand Final.

Should you have any questions, please contact cac@aspiringsolicitors.co.uk

Schedule

The Competition will run from 1 October 2018 to 24 January 2019 and will comprise of six rounds. Please note that registration for entering the Competition closes on 30 September 2018.

The first three rounds are online:

  • Round 1: 7 October
  • Round 2: 21 October
  • Round 3: 28 October

The Quarter, Semi and Grand Final rounds will take place in person:

  • Quarter Finals: week commencing 12 November, at various UK locations
  • Semi Finals: week commencing 4 December, in London and Bristol locations
  • Grand Final: 24 January, Barclays Headquarters in Canary Wharf, London

Travel expenses will be reimbursed for the Semi Finals and Grand Final. In special circumstances, travel expenses will be reimbursed for the Quarter Finals. Please note all travel expense claims will be assessed on an ad-hoc basis and Aspiring Solicitors withholds the right to refuse the reimbursement of travel expenses if arranged without Aspiring Solicitors’ approval.

Further information about the travel expenses process will be provided to entrants who progress to the latter rounds.

Prizes

The winners of the Competition will be offered legal work experience with the following organisations:

  • Barclays Legal
  • Dechert
  • TLT
  • Travers Smith
  • Mayer Brown

All members of the winning team will also receive a bespoke suit and shirt courtesy of LexisNexis and A Suit That Fits.

Guidelines and Rules

Attendance / Absence

You must be present for all stages of the Competition. Without highly exceptional mitigating circumstances, absence at physical assessment (quarter final onwards) or failure to complete online assessment, will prevent progression to the next round.

The dates in the above ‘Schedule’ section are not moveable or negotiable. If you cannot participate during one of the dates, you will not be able to proceed to the next round.

If you secure a Training Contract before or during the process, you must inform Aspiring Solicitors so that the organisation can (i) congratulate you and (ii) remove you from the Competition as the Commercial Awareness Competition is only open to Aspiring Solicitors members who do not have a Training Contract.

Should you reach the Semi Final, Aspiring Solicitors will send you an online link to a booking platform that sets out multiple available dates for these stages of the Competition. This platform will enable you to select a suitable date. It will be your responsibility to book the date and time from the selection provided. No further dates will be made available.

Online Tests: Rounds 1-3

Aspiring Solicitors will provide you with online links via email to access online tests. If you do not attempt an online test, or fail to access an online test due to connection issues, you will not progress to the next round. Given the large number of entrants, this rule will be strictly adhered to.

It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in a suitable location with an appropriate internet connection to complete the online test. If the internet connection is poor, this will negatively impact your performance and is likely to mean you will not progress to the next round. Please also ensure that this is a quiet place where you will not be distracted by background noise. Should you lose connection/miss the test time, we will not be able to reschedule your test and therefore you will not progress to the next round. Therefore, cafes with free/unreliable Wi-Fi and other such environments are not suitable for the online test.

No resources that may give you an unfair advantage, such as the internet e.g. search engines, newspapers, journals or notes, are permitted during the Competition. Use, or suspicion of use of these, or similar resources, will result in automatic disqualification.

There will be strict time limits for each round and for the purposes of the Competition, you will be required to adhere to time restrictions. Aspiring Solicitors will explain how much time you have at each stage of the Competition. At registration, you will be given the opportunity to submit a request for reasonable adjustments e.g. additional time to complete the various rounds of the Competition.

We may request additional information from you throughout the Competition e.g. a CV. Sponsoring organisations are interested in entrants to the competition from a recruitment perspective, so documents such as your CV may be passed onto those firms.

Judging Criteria

You will be judged on the following criteria in relation to questions asked and the answers provided:

  • clarity of response
  • knowledge of the subject/topic
  • accuracy of response
  • understanding of principles/issues

Progression to each stage of the Competition will be announced on the Aspiring Solicitors website and later via email.

Where an individual is considered to have acted contrary to the spirit of the Competition in any way, Aspiring Solicitors reserves the right to disqualify that individual at any time.

By participating in the Competition, you agree and accept that you have read and understood all of the information provided on this webpage.

Your Responsibility

You will be responsible for ensuring that you are available for each Round. If for any reason the contact details provided by you to Aspiring Solicitors at registration change, you must email cac@aspiringsolicitors.co.uk  at least 24 hours in advance of the fixture. Failure to do so will result in disqualification.

The date and time of each round cannot be revised or rescheduled. If there is a significant issue, please email cac@aspiringsolicitors.co.uk  stating your name and reason, at least 48 hours in advance of the upcoming round of the Competition.

How to prepare for the Commercial Awareness Competition

Read business news publications daily in whichever medium you prefer e.g. hardcopy, online, audio. Aspiring Solicitors recommends that you dedicate at least 20 minutes per day to reviewing business news;

  • Follow Aspiring Solicitors on social media, especially Twitter (@access2law) and Facebook (Aspiring Solicitors) as Aspiring Solicitors will be re-tweeting and sharing key commercial news and information throughout the Competition. Look out for #AScommercialawareness.

Meet up with your peers to share knowledge and challenge each other through questions about commercial topics in order to enhance your understanding; and

  • Have an opinion on current events. At the very least, be able to articulate “who, what, where, why and when” on potential questions.

Throughout the Competition, you should be able to:

  • answer questions on important individuals within the commercial world, including political leaders and key business figures etc.;
  • explain and discuss current affairs that may have commercial consequences;
  • identify places, industries or markets of commercial importance and significance;
  • be able to explain how any of the above has an impact on commercial law firms or their clients.

Please note, ad hoc diversity questions will be asked throughout the Competition that will relate to topics such as Aspiring Solicitors, the legal profession generally or any other topical diversity news.  The responses to these questions may be used to determine your progression in the event of a tie.

Round 1: online test

You will be asked randomly selected questions created by Aspiring Solicitors. You will have 6 minutes to complete the test.

Aspiring Solicitors will provide you with an online link to Round 1 which will involve quickfire questions that will test your general, commercial and political knowledge.

You will also be provided with a LexisNexis article to read in advance of Round 1 as some of the questions will be based on this article.

After clicking the online link provided to you via email by Aspiring Solicitors, you will be prompted with a landing page introducing the test and asking you to confirm that you have complied with the Competition Guidelines. These guidelines include a requirement not to use any materials or information that would assist you with the Round 1 test.

The main focus of Round 1 is general commercial awareness and does not focus on one particular area of commerce, but tests the basic knowledge aspiring commercial lawyers should possess.

The highest scoring entrants will progress to Round 2.

Aspiring Solicitors is unable to provide feedback on performance. However, individuals who do not progress to Round 2 will be able to attend an Aspiring Solicitors Commercial Awareness Workshop in 2018/19. Further details about this workshop will be provided in Autumn 2018.

Round 2: online test

Round 2 involves increasingly difficult questions created by Aspiring Solicitors.

If you progressed through Round 1, Aspiring Solicitors will provide you with an online link to the test via email. Again, upon clicking the link you will be sent to a landing page requiring you to confirm compliance with the Competition Guidelines.

The main focus of Round 2 is general commercial awareness paired with article specific questions supplied by LexisNexis. Full instructions will be provided by Aspiring Solicitors to entrants who successfully progress through Round 1, ahead of Round 2 assessment.

The highest scoring entrants will progress to Round 3.

Entrants who do not progress to Round 3 will be able to attend an Aspiring Solicitors Commercial Awareness workshop in 2018/19, details of which will be provided in Autumn 2018.

Round 3: online test

Round 3 involves increasingly difficult questions created by Aspiring Solicitors.

You will be asked questions on recent events (whether political, commercial or economic) that have impacted the legal industry.

The highest scoring entrants will progress to the Quarter Finals.  Where necessary, we will consider your previous Round performances/scores.

Entrants who do not progress to the Quarter Finals will be able to attend an Aspiring Solicitors Commercial Awareness workshop in 2018/19, details of which will be provided in Autumn 2018.

Quarter Final: in person

Quarter Finals will be held at sponsor law firms and will be 30 minutes in duration. This round is delivered purely by Aspiring Solicitors and so no partners, associates or graduate recruitment team members from the hosting firm will be present.

Failure to arrive promptly/on time will result in disqualification from the Competition. Following Aspiring Solicitors’ confirmation of the event location, please ensure you allow plenty of time for travel.

The Quarter Finals will be based on recent commercial news relating to any key sector area of each of the four sponsor law firms.  Entrants will be put into teams that Aspiring Solicitors is able to alter at any time. Once placed into a team each entrant will be asked a question on recent events (political, commercial or economic) that have impacted sponsor law firms or their clients, as well as the wider legal market.

Quarter-Finalist scores within the top 40% of marks will progress to the Semi Finals.  Where necessary, performance at previous rounds will be taken into consideration.

Unfortunately, due to the large number of participants in the Quarter Finals, it is not possible to provide feedback on performance. Entrants who do not progress to the Semi Finals will be able to attend an Aspiring Solicitors Commercial Awareness workshop in 2018/19, details of which to be provided in Autumn 2018.

Semi Final: in person

The Semi Finals will be held in London and Bristol, beginning at 10am and finishing at 5pm. Entrants will be placed into teams of five by Aspiring Solicitors. The judging panel will consist of the Aspiring Solicitors team and representatives from the host firm that may include trainees, graduate recruitment members, associates or partners.

The Semi Finals will involve two team-based exercises and an individual exercise. Team-based presentations will include a question and answer element, designed to test entrants’ knowledge of the topic in question. Questions will be based on recent news impacting law firms and their clients, as well as wider general commercial areas.  Aspiring Solicitors reserves the right to combine Semi Final teams and/or alter the composition of Semi Final teams as/where required on the day.

At least one Semi-Final Team from each Semi Final will be selected by the relevant law firm to progress to the Grand Final with at least one “Wild Card” performer.

Grand Final: in person

The Grand Final is a full-day event held at the Barclays Headquarters in London. The judging panel will consist of partners and senior lawyers.

Tasks will consist solely of team-based exercises, most of which will have a question and answer element. All topics will be unseen and will truly test the depth of each team member’s knowledge of several different business sectors.

Aspiring Solicitors reserves the right to combine Grand Final teams and/or alter the composition of Grand Final teams as/where required.

The winning team/standout individual will be based on the scores accumulated during the day based on set criteria. This will be determined by the independent panel of partners and senior lawyers on the Grand Final judging panel.

Good luck!