Student lawyers, who have recently finished their time at law school, or those who are enjoying summer break, might want to begin developing the following characteristics if they aim to be an employable, successful lawyer.
1. Considerate Communication
Talking the talk comes more easily to some than others. However, doing it with integrity, reliability, accuracy, and a high degree of consideration for others, is more difficult.
In order to argue convincingly in a court room, explain issues concisely to clients, or discuss disputes with businesses, lawyers must be able to communicate with consideration for their target audience.
For example, discussing a trial with the defendant may require less legal jargon and more commonplace language, while discussing the same case with the judge, or other lawyers, will necessitate a different set of skills.
To develop your oral communication skills it is good practice to take part in activates such as debating (while at university), public speaking events, and so on. This should give you confidence in general and also improve your ability to alternate your lexical choice based upon your intended audience.
Of course, communication isn’t just about speaking; lawyers must learn to be articulate in their writing, as well as their speaking. Lawyers must be able to write clearly, concisely, and persuasively. To improve your writing abilities consider writing for your university’s magazine, create an online blog, or write for pleasure.
Listening is another factor to effective communication that is often overlooked. You must be able to follow complex discussions, pick out nuance and tone of voice, analyse testimonies, and so on, in order to ensure you can keep up to speed with trials and procedures.
Improve your listening skills by using online audio recordings and taking notes on important points. Check your accuracy afterwards to see where you could improve.
2. Ability to Analyse
The study and practice of law involve the processing and understanding of a large volume of information.
Sometimes, this information will need to be distilled into manageable quantities for clients, expanded upon for associates and colleagues, or changed from verbal to written, or vice-versa.
The ability to analyse and evaluate information will help when reaching conclusions, finding precedents, and looking for solutions.
To improve your analytical skills you can participate in analysis-based student workshops or classes, take a training course, join a book club, play brain games, or aim to learn one new fact each day.
3. Interpersonal Skills
Law is not only an intellectual practice – your decisions, actions, abilities and talents will have emotional impact on real people and their lives, once your career gets underway.
Your ability to interact with people from all backgrounds, cultures and circumstances will improve your communication skills, your judgement, and your capacity to succeed.
Lawyers must be amiable, reliable, understanding and persuasive. They also need to read the reactions of jurors, witnesses, and clients in different situations and circumstances.
To improve your interpersonal skills consider volunteering at local shelters, youth groups, or sports clubs, and mix with people of different ages, upbringings, and beliefs.
Your talent for judging honesty, understanding client’s needs, evaluating reactions, and negotiating with empathy, will serve you well as lawyer.
4. Creative Flair
The best lawyers aren’t only analytical, approachable and articulate, they are also creative.
This creativity will come into play when problem solving, brainstorming, evaluating and conceptualising cases, problems or trials.
Lawyers need to outmanoeuvre the opposition, negotiate deals, overcome complications and deal with disputes in a creative, original way.
Quite often, the best solution is not necessarily the most obvious one, and in order to discover this it is indispensable to be able to think outside the box.
Creativity is like a muscle – it must be worked, stretched and used in order to grow. To improve your creative flair you can research other industries (to discover how they manage problems), learn a new language, play a musical instrument, relax and unwind, or ask for advice and learn from mentors.
Legal firms aren’t just looking to employ the most highly qualified, or academic lawyers, they are looking for those individuals who can think on their feet, have utilised all aspects of their learning (including those outside of their formal education), and also, those who can empathise and communicate with all members of the community, no matter their situation or station.
These ‘soft skills’ make for a well-rounded, mature, compassionate lawyer who has the talent to advance through a legal firm with confidence.