Lawyers provide essential services to society by protecting persons and entities when harmed and defending them when accused. They serve as advocates and advisors, offering legal advice, writing legal documents, and representing clients in court.
In the increasingly competitive legal industry, studying law and passing the bar exam is not enough. Lawyers must also have a unique set of skills, aptitude, and knowledge to survive and thrive in the profession and stand out in the burgeoning job market.
Whether you are a law student or a practicing lawyer, read on to learn five major skills to succeed in your legal career.
1. People and Personal Skills
Lawyers must learn how to deal with people and on behalf of people. People skills are not only being likable and having a good personality but also having the capacity to communicate and listen to others.
Empathy is paramount for a talent lawyer or any other lawyer who does sensitive jobs like managing one’s career. Since the law is a people-focused career, you must be exceptional in reading and understanding people’s emotions. Empathy goes a long way to bolster clients’ trust, foster open communication, and satisfy client expectations.
In addition to people skills, lawyers must have decent personal skills such as resilience, self-confidence, patience, and perseverance. For instance, they need the self-confidence to defend clients in court and provide firm arguments in the client’s favor.
Working as a lawyer can be tough, from tight timelines to long working hours, a competitive job market, and meeting clients’ demands. The ability to overcome challenges and handle stressors is mandatory for success in this field.
2. Time Management Skills
Time management skills can be a differentiating factor between a good lawyer and an excellent one. It allows lawyers to increase productivity, reduce stress, and attain work-life balance. Also, when lawyers manage their time and energy well, they complete tasks quickly and meet clients’ needs satisfactorily.
Although time management is a vital skill for lawyers, many struggle with it. From managing client details, court dates, case progressions, paperwork compilation, and drafting legal documents, lawyers have much on their desks.
Additional tasks for lawyers include preparing for meetings, communicating with clients, creating defense strategies, and researching.
Luckily, smart time management tips like making a to-do list, using technology, learning to say no, and limiting distractions are vital. Making time for last-minute urgencies and reducing task-switching help build focus and reduce undue stress.
3. Communication Skills
Every lawyer is a communicator, communicating with clients, court, colleagues, and other case parties. As such, they must have good communication skills to handle this role properly, whether passing information in emails, phone calls, or private conversations.
Lawyer-client communication should never be underestimated. It establishes trust, improves client satisfaction, and lowers the risk and cost of misunderstanding.
Whether a lawyer is communicating about court proceedings, action plans, or jury verdicts, they should do so clearly, know the channels to use, and listen actively.
Solid written communication skills are a must-have for lawyers. They go beyond using complicated vocabulary and legal jargon. Written communication allows lawyers to draft legal documents, create briefs and pleadings, and write emails to clients and coworkers.
4. Teamwork Skills
While lawyers appear to be lone gunslingers, especially in the courtroom, they are not. Legal practice is teamwork, and lawyers must be cooperative with each other to succeed.
A good number of lawyers work in law firms, where they cooperate and collaborate with other professionals to meet clients’ legal needs. They work with lawyers and non-lawyers, including seasoned investigators, data analysts, consultants, paralegals, and support staff, to provide best-in-class counsel.
If you’re wondering how teamwork benefits a lawyer. Here is how:
- It fosters creativity as the team generates ideas and shares knowledge.
- It promotes accountability.
- It encourages healthy competition, stimulating excellent performance.
- It boosts effectiveness and efficiency in the firm.
Good ways for lawyers to cultivate teamwork skills are delegating tasks, being good listeners, and getting and giving feedback. Networking through personal and professional activities is also vital in developing teamwork skills.
5. Technical Skills
Successful lawyers must have excellent technical skills in the current digital age. They must keep up with technology and leverage it to serve their clients better and increase competitiveness. New technologies emerge daily to streamline lawyers’ work and increase efficiency.
Essential tech skills for lawyers include research, securing documents, file creation, and using apps. While in the past, securing documents involved keeping your office door or file drawer locked, today, things are different and digitized.
Lawyers must take precautions to protect documents and files stored on computers and online to prevent liability and cyberattacks.
Lawyers should learn to use numerous tools and technologies, including legal research databases, virtual meeting software, document management software, and legal practice management software. Dictation devices are crucial in a lawyer’s toolkit and assist with recording legal briefings, taking notes, and brainstorming.
Whether protecting a client against charges, representing them in a personal injury case, or helping in business affairs, lawyers offer essential legal services. Therefore, they must have a combination of hard and soft skills to succeed and thrive, from communication to time management, technical, and teamwork skills.
However, don’t feel discouraged if you don’t have all these skills. With passion, determination, and patience, you can develop the skills and stand out from the pack.