CAC 2019/20 Rules and Guidelines

Introduction

The Aspiring Solicitors UK Commercial Awareness Competition 2020 (“the Competition”) is 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 suit for each winner courtesy of LexisNexis).

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

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 Semi-Finals and Grand Final but you will be assessed as an individual throughout.

This approach ensures that the best performers reach the Grand Final of the Competition and ultimately win.

To enter, you must be an Aspiring Solicitors member and 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
  • Have a disability or long-term health condition.

You must also be (i) an undergraduate; or (ii) a postgraduate; or (iii) a graduate (whether working or in education); and (iv) must not have secured a Training Contract offer; and (v) be based in the UK for the purposes of competing in person at the Semi-Final and Grand Final rounds.

First year students are welcome and encouraged to participate. A number of first years have competed at previous Grand Finals.

Should you have any questions, please read the Commercial Awareness Competition FAQ section.

Key Dates

Please note that registration for entering the Competition closes at 1pm on 4 October 2019.

The Competition will run from 10 October 2019 to 16 January 2020 and will comprise of five rounds.

The first two rounds are online:

  • Round 1: 10 October
  • Round 2: 24 October
  • The Quarter-Finals will take place via conference call: Quarter-Finals: 4-13 November
  • The Semi-Final and Grand Final rounds will take place in person: Semi-Finals: week commencing 25 November, in locations in London and Bristol
  • Grand Final: 16 January, Barclays Headquarters in Canary Wharf, London

Necessary travel expenses incurred for the purposes of competing will be reimbursed for the Semi-Finals and Grand Final. Please note all travel expense claims will be assessed on an ad-hoc basis and Aspiring Solicitors reserves the right to refuse the reimbursement of travel expenses in excess of the standard £75 limit if incurred without Aspiring Solicitors’ advance approval.

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

Prizes

The winners of the Competition will be offered legal work experience with (i) Barclays Legal (ii) Mayer Brown (iii) Dechert (iv) TLT and (v) Travers Smith.

All members of the winning team will also receive a suit courtesy of LexisNexis.

Guidelines and Rules

Attendance / Absence

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

The dates in the above ‘Key Dates’ 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 Competition, 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.

At Quarter-Final and Semi-Final stages, 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 time and 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 1-2

Aspiring Solicitors will provide you with URL links to access online tests via email. 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 likely prevent 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, cafés 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 these time restrictions. Aspiring Solicitors will explain how much time you have to complete each round 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 firms are highly interested in recruiting star performers, with many winners and non-winners offered training contracts each year the Competition has run, so documents such as your CV may be passed onto them.

Judging Criteria

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

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

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

**When you register and supply a contact email address, you must use the same email address throughout the Competition e.g. when completing the online rounds and booking a Quarter-Final assessment slot.**

Use of multiple emails during the course of the Competition may lead to disqualification. Please ensure the email address provided at registration is used throughout the Competition e.g. when completing online rounds.

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 48 hours in advance of the upcoming round of the Competition. Failure to do so will result in disqualification.

Should you have a query about the Competition, please consult these FAQs before emailing Aspiring Solicitors. **We receive an enormous number of emails and so if your query is addressed in the FAQs, you will not get a response.**

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.

Reasonable Adjustments

You will have the opportunity to submit reasonable adjustment requests with supporting medical evidence at registration.

Based on this evidence, those requesting reasonable adjustments will be allocated a set amount of additional time. This will be confirmed with the candidate in advance of Round 1 of the Competition. The same amount of additional time will apply in Round 2.

Those that have been given additional time that progress beyond Rounds 1 and 2 will be provided with instructions around adjustments ahead of the Quarter-Finals.

How to prepare for the Commercial Awareness Competition

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

  • Follow Aspiring Solicitors on social media, especially Twitter (@access2law), LinkedIn (Aspiring Solicitors) and Facebook (Aspiring Solicitors) as Aspiring Solicitors will be re-tweeting and sharing key commercial news and information throughout the Competition. Look out for #CAC2020.
  • Discuss commercial developments with your peers, share knowledge and challenge each other on 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 with commercial consequences;
  • identify places, industries or markets of commercial importance and significance;
  • and be able to explain how the above impact commercial law firms or their clients.

Round 1: online test

You will be asked randomly selected commercial questions and will have 6 minutes to complete the test if you have not requested reasonable adjustments with supporting medical evidence.

Aspiring Solicitors will provide you with an online link to Round 1 via email 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 and a selection 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 basic commercial knowledge.

The highest scoring entrants will progress to Round 2.

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 the Quarter-Finals, assessed by conference call.

Quarter-Final: conference call

Quarter-Finals will be held via conference call and will be 20 minutes in duration. As many as 5 competitors will be assessed at the same time during the conference call.

It is your responsibility to ensure that you have a reliable phone connection when you dial-in to the call.

The Quarter-Finals will be based on recent commercial news and LexisNexis pre-reading.

The best performing Quarter-Finalists 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.

Semi-Final: in person

A total of four Semi-Finals will be held in London and Bristol, beginning at 10am and finishing at 5pm. Each of the 100 remaining competitors will be required to compete at one Semi-Final as part of a team of five arranged 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 written 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.

The best performers at the Semi-Finals will progress to the Grand Final.

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!