Lawyers and attorneys can work across a variety of different law fields and their professional roles can vary in responsibilities. However, there are several key skills for a successful law career. Therefore, if you’re pursuing your career as a lawyer, you must have the skills necessary to perform in the role.
Lawyer skills encompass a variety of hard and soft skills that are both specific to the profession and transferable skills. Knowledge of law practices, protocols and regulations, ability to think critically and solve problems are just some of them. Additionally, many lawyers use programs and applications like word processors, spreadsheet software, scheduling applications and technical communication tools.
Here are the key skills for a successful law career:
Lawyers work in a dynamic world that requires them to think outside the box and come up with innovative solutions. To secure a positive result for your client you’ll need to employ your creative thinking and problem-solving skills. Therefore, when reviewing large quantities of data, use your problem-solving abilities efficiently and effectively. The answer to a client’s problem may not be obvious. Hence, your job will be to explore new avenues, arguments and ideas to achieve the desired result. A good way to develop these abilities is to take part in student competitions, such as mooting. Moreover, to become a student representative or gain a position in your students’ union.
Initiative and Independence
Although teamwork is fundamental to success, it is also essential to be decisive when the situations demand it. As a trainee lawyer, you will be given responsibility and you must rise to that. It will be expected of you to formulate solutions to problems rather than relying only on others. However, taking initiative includes the ability to know when to ask questions or to ask for help. Moreover, you need to prove that you will not be driven by third-party influence or harm your client’s interest. Instead, you shall act in a manner that serves your client’s needs in the best way possible. The best part is- this is a skill that can be developed at any point, with a little practice.
Verbal Communication Skills
Lawyers or advocates must possess excellent communication skills to carry out the duties of a solicitor effectively. Verbal communication will be perhaps the most vital element of your job. Your role is to communicate your arguments and persuade your judge or jury of the merits of your case. It’s also not something you can avoid as a solicitor. Client meetings, phone calls and presentations will make a bigger part of your workday. Getting involved in theatre or debating will develop skills like projection and pace. On the other hand, techniques such as meditation can help deal with nerves. You can also take part in one of TLP’s mock trials to improve your advocacy skills.
Written Communication Skills
Lawyers perform many writing tasks throughout their workdays, and strong written communication is a highly desirable trait in this profession. They are beneficial while preparing the case arguments, briefs and other legal documents. Written ability is equally important when drafting letters and legal documents. You’ll need to know the technical and legal language and be able to convey it clearly and concisely.
To improve your written communication skills, get involved with your university’s law society. You could draft emails, write newsletters or manage social media accounts. You will naturally develop your writing style as you write essays for school or university. In addition, it can help to get some practice writing for a school or uni magazine or even running your blog. You can also write for The Lawyer Portal, which looks great on the CV.
Public Speaking Skills
To argue convincingly in the courtroom before juries and judges, good public speaking skills are essential. In addition, you’ll have to use persuasive, clear and succinct language. Public speaking can be developed by acknowledging the fact that one correctly and genuinely wants to work upon this skill. To develop it while at university, take part in activities such as mooting or general public speaking. For example, volunteer as the spokesperson in group activities or get involved in debate teams.
One of the important skills for a successful law career is persuasive communication. Attorneys commonly apply persuasive techniques in their jobs, especially court lawyers. Persuasive communication requires the ability to relate to others, find their pain points and apply methods for solving cases. By applying persuasive techniques, lawyers achieve positive outcomes for their clients.
Excellent listening ability is also important when working with clients, as you need to be able to build relationships and generate confidence. To be a great lawyer or advocate one must have and possess the quality and skill to listen to each. In practice, this skill helps the lawyer or Advocate in every possible manner. For instance, to cross-examine the witness or find the opposite counsel and facilitate an effective rebuttal.
Lawyers first and foremost are providing a service to their clients. Therefore, your practice should be geared towards their needs. This involves listening and taking time to understand their concerns. Clients will rarely have a detailed knowledge of the law, that is why they come to you. Hence, it is critical that you’re able to explain matters in terms they understand rather than using overly technical language. The more work experience – the better you’ll be at listening and adapting your communication style to suit everyone.
Legal Reading and Writing
Reading and writing are the most basic of career skills and they are required for almost every career imaginable. However, the language of the law is often dense and can be almost impenetrable to an outsider. Legislations, constitutions, amendments, rights, laws, bills and directives are difficult to interpret. Learning how to read and write about the law requires a strong analytical mind and a whole new vocabulary.
Lawyers interact and work with a variety of diverse clients and professionals. Therefore, it’s highly advantageous to have strong interpersonal skills. That includes empathy, the ability to connect with others and provide support. Additionally, it requires interpreting emotions and helping resolve conflict. And those are some of the skills that lawyers commonly rely on when working with their clients.
Work Under Pressure
As a lawyer, you will often be expected to deliver large amounts and work under tight deadlines. Hence, being able to stay calm and focused is critical. Develop this skill by setting personal deadlines before the official ones will ensure that you complete tasks on time. Make timetables and plans so you’re able to manage your time effectively and can prioritize the most important tasks.
Being a lawyer also requires perseverance. Perseverance is the skill on the one side and attitude on the other. It develops the capability to deal and perform the activities and tasks assigned productively and constructively. Along with the numerous and variety-full events which further embodies distractions.
Your attention to detail and perseverance should culminate in a kind of perfectionism which means that your case is flawless. During a trial, the other lawyer’s job is to find holes in your case. Just as it’s your job to find holes in theirs. Therefore, you need to make sure there are no holes to find or to be able to explain all of them.
Any job in the legal sector will require you to juggle responsibilities, information and clients. This can be difficult if you don’t keep to a high standard of the organization. The ability to prioritize and remain focused among competing priorities is essential and that’s why organizational skills are so important. Record your work on internal documents, for example- Google calendar or write handwritten notes in a diary. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to improve this skill throughout your training and work experience.
Effective time management is also critical in a legal career. Typically, lawyers charge for their services on a per-hour basis. That means staying on track during client meetings, mediation, hearings and other tasks during working hours. In addition to keeping track of time spent with clients, it’s also important to dedicate time to different tasks. For example- researching, compiling paperwork or gathering information.
Technical skills, including specialized skill sets specific to the field are becoming more desirable for attorneys to have. For instance, working with computer applications like spreadsheets, word processors and online applications are several technical aspects of the job. Besides computer skills, knowledge of your field and technical terms, laws and protocols will be necessary for your career success.
Many lawyers are increasing their financial literacy skills, especially professionals who start their private firms. Several financial skills include balancing a ledger, understanding tax laws and principles and calculating profits. Moreover, billing clients and being able to communicate this information when collecting payment from clients.
Law is demanding and competitive, it requires courage and self-belief. Confidence is important to both you and your clients. Without it, you won’t be able to convince anyone of anything. And convincing people is something you’ll need to do a lot as a lawyer. Hence, you must be able to believe in your work and your abilities. Only that way others can believe in your expertise. For a start, clients need to be convinced that you offer the best service. Next, juries need to be convinced of your client’s innocence. Finally, judges need to be convinced that you are sticking to the law.
Communication skills are essential. The ability to communicate clearly and concisely is key to developing healthy relationships. Moreover, it is also the foundation for high-quality legal services and exceptional customer service. When working in the legal sector you will often have to rely on your ability to network. Whether it’s at events or other alternative ways to network. Therefore, as a lawyer, you should be willing to participate in all employer social events and charity events as well.
A Strong Moral Code
One of the important skills for a successful law career is a strong moral code. Some clients are guilty and some clients are innocent. Only you can decide whether or not working for a particular client is the right thing to do. It’s certainly easier to work with a client if you believe them and think that they are innocent. But beyond that, it is ultimately your decision who you work with. Deciding who to work with and why requires a strong sense of right and wrong. As a result, you must possess a strong moral code.
Commercial awareness appears everywhere. It essentially means having a broad understanding of current affairs and how developments are likely to affect the firm. To succeed in any professional job, you must continue to develop your commercial awareness. Each day brings the arrival of new information on local, national and world business. Therefore, working on this skill will need to be a daily occurrence. To improve this skill, research and regularly read the news and listen to podcasts or the radio. Furthermore, consider joining industry forums and attending seminars.
Research and analysis
Research also plays a huge role in a lawyer’s day-to-day job. One misplaced word or one gap in research can have huge consequences to the firm or the client. Being able to identify the relevant information and explain it clearly and concisely to your client is key.
Utilize research when doing the background work on a case, drafting legal documents and advising clients on complicated issues. Use your time at university to familiarize yourself with internet and library resources. Improve this skill by taking documents or long articles and making five-point bulleted lists of the most important themes.
Attention to Detail
Attention to detail is highly important for lawyers, no matter their field of law practice. Lawyers work with diverse clients across many types of law practices. Consequently, these professionals rely on their attention to detail. They must spot inconsistencies in clients’ cases, obscure witness information or other types of data related to the projects.
A lawyer will always be faced with large and unclear documents. Hence, the ability to spot key pieces of information is essential. Develop this skill by taking your time when reading documents and working on staying focused. You can do this, for example, by reading books or articles. In addition, volunteer your proofing services to student publications and practice to always check your work. When applying for jobs or training contracts, look for spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors.
Law is a career in which the ability to build effective relationships with others and work collaboratively is paramount. When working in the legal sector, workloads are often too heavy to be completed on your own. Hence, it’s important to communicate, delegate tasks and trust your colleagues. In a team, basic skills of respect and empathy become essential. Those who cannot listen and take on board the opinions of others will find themselves out of step. If people enjoy working with you, they will want to do so again and recommend you to others.
You’ll work alongside a variety of people and winning cases will be a team effort. Solicitors need to collaborate with colleagues and partners in their firm, as well as clients. Barristers need to work close with their clerks and will often work high-profile cases alongside other barristers. It’s also vital that clients trust their legal representatives. Hence, you’ll need to be personable, persuasive and polite. Getting involved in teams and societies at school and university is a great way to develop this skill.
A passionate work ethic
One of the important skills for a successful law career is a passionate work ethic. Employers are looking for candidates who will go above and beyond for their law firm. Therefore, to land your dream career, you must demonstrate an eager work ethic and 100% commitment.
Demonstrate your readiness for a successful legal career by seeking out pro bono opportunities to get early courtroom experience. Or by volunteering to write an article on subjects of interest to the firm. Both efforts will result in interaction with senior lawyers, which is what most young lawyers crave.
Extra-curricular experience enable you to develop and articulate your skills. Moreover, extra-curricular activities will impress your employers. Involvement in societies where you take on additional responsibilities can provide very powerful evidence to employers.
Working part-time during term time and holidays is a great experience. It also helps students understand what the business is trying to achieve. Furthermore, how their role within it can help them demonstrate their commercial awareness. Similarly, involvement in enterprise and entrepreneurial activities provides great personal development opportunities.
The ability to draw reasonable, logical conclusions or assumptions from limited information is essential as a lawyer. You must also be able to consider these judgments critically. That way you can anticipate potential areas of weakness in your argument that must be fortified against. Similarly, you must be able to spot points of weakness in an opposition’s argument. Decisiveness is also a part of the judgment as there will be a lot of important judgment calls to make.
A lawyer or advocate must be accompanied by managerial and leadership skills. Thus, leadership skills are necessary for a lawyer or advocate to be successful. A large firm’s leadership skills play a crucial role while determining the skill-set of a successful lawyer.
Decision Making Skills
Decision-making skills are the ability to take decisions out of situations and events after analyzing them. Another person can judge the lawyer or advocate through his ability to make decisions. Those decisions may in future events bring stability and upgrade the personality of his client. Moreover, they can perform accordingly with the needs of the client taking into consideration its interest.
A good lawyer must have the ability to understand numerous topics simultaneously in its deepest sense and essence form. Besides enquiring, inquiring and analyzing the appropriate provisions are pointed out and implied in a particular case. If a lawyer acquires the skill of enquiring, this can be done more smoothly.
One of the important skills for a successful law career is firmness. Firmness is a very important and crucial lawyer trait. It tests the consistency and regularities in a good lawyer or advocate to pursue a case. It is the ability to be consistent and loyal towards the client and his case in a Court of Law.
Project management skills are crucial, to do, perform and manage cross-border transactions, cases and other projects. Coordination helps in facilitating the management of a project between different nations and more.
The lawyer or Advocate must deal with all the situations and events in the utmost responsive manner. Timely research, planning, execution, present on the date of the hearing. All these activities performed by a lawyer or Advocate reflect the responsive behavior. This type of skill and quality is appreciated not only by the clients but the Judges as well.
Apart from professionalism and ethics, a lawyer or advocate must possess a balance of emotional traits. Moreover, this should be a part of his personality. He should be able to attach the variety of events in his client’s case. Furthermore, to explain the happenings of the events to the judges. In short- possessing an emotional balance will help in the client’s case as a whole.
A lawyer or advocate must be patient enough to listen to the client and the opposing counsel. Furthermore- the Judge, the members of the jury and the people involved in a particular case. This is a skill that a good lawyer or advocate must be well versed with, and it should be a part of his personality.
Legal positions vary greatly in scope and responsibility, but certain core skills are required for most of them. Having the right set of skills of a lawyer can lead a career of abundance and great success. Hence, master the skills above for a successful law career.