A question asked to most of us legal professionals is, “what does make a good lawyer?” To answer this, it goes without saying that in order to practice law one must possess practical skills. Consequently, I have created an article to shed light on exactly such practical skills every lawyer must possess in order to be successful. Practicing as a lawyer requires a number of core practical skills and attributes which will be discussed below. Such core practical skills and attributes are varied for a lawyer and can be seen below as follows.
1. Written Communication: a very crucial practical skill one must add to a lawyers skillset would be written communication, as such a practical skill lays the foundation for a professional legal career. It includes, writing simple correspondence to drafting complex legal documents, writing is an integral function of nearly every position. Legal Professionals must master the stylistic and mechanical aspects of writing, as well as the fundamentals of English grammar. A practical Lawyer must have practical skills of how to write organized, concise, and persuasive prose. A lawyer needs this skill to draft effective documents such as motions, briefs, memorandums, resolutions, and agreements.
2. Using evidence efficiently: firstly, a lawyer should be practically equipped with an in-depth understanding of the legislations which are connected to Evidence, Crime, Forensics, and concerned procedures. He has to have an idea about how a story may play out through forensic evidence, and be able to find any loop holes in the matter. A lawyer must be able to use evidence provided efficiently in order to win over the opposition and win his case. Through the evidence can an entire story be played out, consequently, it is crucial for him/she to sift through what is important and what is not pertaining to the case at hand. In order to do so he/she must be able to comprehend how such evidence would have come about. This practical skill will enhances his/her chances of being a successful lawyer in the future.
3. Comprehension Skills: a lawyer must be able to focus at any job is of umpteen important and while this may seem like an obvious skill, it is one that is extremely important for lawyers to master in order to be successful. The foremost reason is that lawyers are often stuck multitasking and juggling various tasks. Consequently, while solving a complex and multifaceted problem, they may also be frequently interrupted by clients and other members of the team. In a world where interruptions continue and it is different to isolate and create the perfect ideal environment for concentration to increase, a top lawyer has to work on their ability to focus so that they can solve the problems at hand and keep the error rate either low to non-existent. This goes without saying that the smallest detail that goes unnoticed can be detrimental to the result of the case as the opposition may use it against him/her. As once this is mastered, comprehension of even the tiniest detail must be followed for a successful case.
4. Negotiation skills: for a lawyer negotiating is a key success factor that must not depart from the mouth of any good lawyer. To be certain in almost any case reaching agreements between the parties involved are essential in the profession. Therefore it is important for a lawyer to possess a bargaining skill that will allow you to reach good deals before falling into more cumbersome procedures.
5. Oral Communication skill: for a lawyer, he must be a master at language, as it is one of the most fundamental tools of a legal professional. A lawyer must be able to convey information in clear, concise, and logical terms. He/she should be able to communicate persuasively, and be able to advocate a position or a cause. Not to forget that a lawyer must also have to master legal terminology.
6. Clear Thinking: one of the biggest advantage of a legal education for non-legal work is that it taught you to think more clearly. Yes, a lawyer will agree that all those hours suffering through the Socratic Method were good for something. One may easily forget when you spend time with other attorneys, but most people haven’t been trained to focus intently on the facts of a situation, research options, and make specific, reasonable arguments about what to do. Consequently, in practicality, this is one important skill a lawyer must develop and constantly enhance for optimal usage leading to a successful legal career
7. Client Services: a practical lawyer will always think of serving a client capably, honestly, and responsibly, and that it is crucial to succeed in the client-focused legal industry. Legal Professionals must master rainmaking and client development skills and customer service skills all of which fall under the ambit of practicality and not ideological in nature. One of the reasons many lawyers burn out is that they’re constantly dealing with conflict, even if you want to leave all of this conflict behind, the reality is that you have to developed some practical useful coping skills and techniques in order to succeed.
8. Technology Skills: it goes without saying that technology is changing the legal landscape and is an integral part of every function. Legal Professionals should master a variety of practical technological skills such as, word processing, presentation, time management, billing, and practice-related software applications to remain effective in their jobs. This most definitely includes mastery of communications technology such as email, voice messaging systems, video conferencing, and related technology. It further involves becoming familiar with electronic discovery, computerized litigation support, and document management software. A lawyer should also develop the tech know-how to make wise practical technology decisions.
9. Being Organized: like most careers, lawyers too are expected to possess the skill of life being organized, this skill shows how serious you are as an individual, and this could speak a lot about your achievement. To enhance this point, becoming a good lawyer also depends on your level of good organization of both time and your job, knowing this secret shows you are one step closer to being a good lawyer. The legal profession will involve meeting and interview with client’s daily, daily paperwork, making a lot of phone calls, keeping to time over court proceedings and a lot more. Consequently, time management and compartmentalization is absolutely crucial skill for a lawyer to possess.
10. Creativity: last but the most important at skill a lawyer should possess is creativity. Even the very top lawyers are not only logical and analytical, but they display a great deal of creativity in their problem-solving methods. Therefore, it can be said that the best solution is not always the most obvious one and in order to outmanoeuvre your challenger it is often necessary to think outside the box.
11. Superior Writing/ Drafting Skills: Lawyers need to have these skills as these are the foundation for their profession. They must create legal documents in various formats, take for example, Writ petitions, Court application, Power of Attorney, Sale Deed Agreements, and Licensing Contracts are some of the common legal documents that should be able to draft precisely. Consequently, a lawyer must master the skill of writing great legal documents, which does indeed require practice such as: understanding audience/client personas, identifying and using suitable action words, writing persuasively in the passive voice, keeping drafts concise, chronological, and organized, editing ruthlessly, with these skills, lawyers can excel in their profession.
12. Team-working/ Cooperative skills: when a lawyer is secure they are not afraid to collaborate with colleagues to attain their legal goals. Taking into account, just like any other profession, teamwork is a key trait of a successful legal practitioner as well. This may include activities like sharing and coordinating information, building relationships with experts, staff, vendors, etc., and contributing to the legal system by voluntarily participating in meetings and conferences.
13. Public Speaking Skills: Part of being a practicing lawyer is speaking in front of people, so it is definitely a practical skill that a law student should learn in law school and likely already had in your skill set before you decided to join a law school. A lawyer must gather and organize supporting information to deliver to an audience, deliver the information coherently to a group, exude confidence and collectedness when sharing information with a group and prepare any visuals or video needed to illustrate your key points in order to be practically successful.
It can be not emphasised enough that every profession has its driving force and the duties, for a lawyer it cuts across diverse sectors of our daily activities. Consequently, this article aimed at emphasising these practical skills one may need in order to succeed in your ideal career. These 13 practical skills are something that you can work on and develop over time. As the famous saying goes: practice makes perfect!