Every job requires some key skills to become successful apart from academic knowledge and experience. A lawyer’s job is no different. In fact, the work and performance pressure on lawyers is quite high because they need to win the legal cases for the sake of their clients as well as their own reputation. Higher the number of wins in their kitty, more clientele and credentials they can get.
So, what sets successful lawyers apart from their peers? Well, they possess a certain skill set which lends a competitive edge to the way they handle their work and steers them towards success. If you want to join the league of successful lawyers, the following skills can come handy:
A lawyer’s job is one which calls for proficiency in all types of communication skills – oral, written and listening. Lawyers need to have strong verbal communication ability to present their arguments in the court, convince clients to hire them, speak with witnesses to dig out information or for any other kind of negotiation/conversation. Written skills are equally important to draft legal documents or any other type of correspondence because even the slightest error can prove fatal to the case. Similarly, lawyers also need to be good and active listeners so that they do not miss out on even the most trivial point that can be crucial for winning the case. Lawyers who have a stronghold over language and grammar can command attention from anyone, anywhere.
Technology and Social Media Skills
A few years ago, it would have been impossible to imagine the legal sector taking a technology leap. But, today, it has become a reality as the digital transformation is gradually replacing pen and paper. Lawyers with technology and social media skills can progress in their career far better and quicker than their counterparts.
Lawyers need to be aware of various software tools and mobile applications that can automate and streamline billing, filing, data entry, research and other administrative tasks. Some successful lawyers are even embracing artificial intelligence and predictive analytics-based tools that help them draft and review legal contracts, conduct due diligence and draw conclusions about judicial outcomes. Some lawyers also have a strong social media presence – they connect with their audience on different digital platforms by posting blogs, live videos or expert advice.
Technology skills are especially useful for lawyers who want to practice technology law. This is an emerging field, and many technology-providers dealing in artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, digital currencies and any other kind of digital assets seek help from lawyers.
Research, Analytical and Logical Reasoning Skills
Most lawyers have a team of paralegal assistants who do extensive research on their behalf. However, successful lawyers dig deeper into this research to find out valuable insights or case points that their teams may have missed. They also possess strong analytical and logical reasoning to pay attention to details and pick only relevant information from the vast amount of data they collect through research. The analytical and logical reasoning skills to find patterns in unstructured information, connect the dots and look at the problem from 360-degree angle. Basically, they leave no stone unturned to do their homework thoroughly and strengthen their position for the case.
There is no doubt that lawyers have legal obligations towards their clients, but that shouldn’t come in the way of following an ethical and professional code of conduct. Successful lawyers ensure that they do not compromise moral values and principles just to win the case. They respect their client’s confidentiality, have faith in the fairness of the judiciary system and avoid conflict of interest as far as possible. They try to win the case within the acceptable limits of what’s right as per the law.
The legal sector is a very dynamic industry. New laws and amendments are introduced every now and then. Successful lawyers not only stay updated with domestic and international legal developments but also keep a close tab on overall happenings with respect to social, economic, political and business environment within which they or clients operate. This is called commercial awareness. Having this skill gives an upper edge to lawyers because they can provide the right solutions to their clients.
Lawyers never operate in silos. They have to interact with their teams, clients, judiciary peers, witnesses, cops and many other people from different walk of life. Successful lawyers do not shy away from collaboration and networking because they know that they can leverage it to their advantage and pull favours at any point in time. They firmly believe in building and nurturing, long-term and sustainable people relationships.
Being a lawyer is not easy. It is a very demanding job, and on the top of that, competition is intense. The above skills can empower lawyers to stay at the top of their game.
The views expressed above are those of Dr Purvi Pokhariyal, Director and Dean, Institute of Law – Nirma University.