However, there are specific core skills that are required for most legal positions. Aspiring lawyers will need to be energetic to get through the long days, but various emotional attributes are equally important. Lawyers must have a capacity for empathy because, at the end of the day, they deal with people. At the same time, they must also be pessimistic because they need to be prepared for the worst-case scenario and have a solution ready in the back of their minds. Yet, there are several intellectual skills that come into play as well if one aspires to be a successful lawyer.
· Project Management:
Most people assume that a litigator's job is to argue in court in front of a judge. However, the vast majority of a lawyer's work includes lengthy and complicated projects. Successful lawyers are those who have mastered the art of organization and know-how to manage a project efficiently. Project management especially comes in handy for cases that last for months or years.
"Aspiring lawyers will need to be energetic to get through the long days, but various emotional attributes are equally important"
· Customer Service:
All lawyers are part of the service industry. Lawyers may find clients from all walks of life - it could be a bank, a multi-million dollar business, an individual going through a divorce, and so on. All these clients will contact a lawyer throughout the process to understand what is going on in their case. The responsibility to update the client and answer their questions correctly falls on the shoulder of the lawyer. With the advent of technology, old legal responsibilities and tasks like drafting pleadings and filling in paperwork have shifted to computers. Therefore, customer service is a skill that can make a big difference in an aspiring lawyer's career.
· Stress Management:
Lawyers are problem solvers. They are expected to solve problems for clients who are stuck in stressful situations. Clients are generally stressed because they can't find a solution to their problems. In such cases, their lawyer must be willing to shoulder the client's stress, all the while keeping their own composure. Therefore, it's essential that lawyers understand and train themselves to manage their stress in the workplace to have a lasting career as an attorney.
· Analytical and Logical Reasoning:
A huge part of a lawyer's job consists of reviewing and assimilating large volumes of complex information efficiently and effectively. Therefore, analytical and logical reasoning skills are extremely important to correctly review written documents, draw inferences, and make connections between multiple scenarios. Moreover, lawyers will also need to develop and structure arguments. The ability to use inductive and deductive reasoning to draw the right conclusions is extremely important.
· Commercial Awareness:
One of the most important attributes that legal recruiters look for in their candidates is commercial awareness. Essentially it means possessing knowledge of current developments regarding local, national, and world business in any matter that may affect a law firm and its clients. Lawyers are expected to market a law firm's services to prospective clients and develop trusting relationships with existing ones. At the end of the day, a law firm is a business; therefore, lawyers must understand the importance of meeting deadlines, keeping costs low, and handling information confidentially.
On the other hand, a client expects their lawyer to have a comprehensive understanding of how their business works and how social, political, and economic issues may affect the firm and them. Lawyers will also need to think strategically about an organization's or the client's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Being able to discern such important factors enables a lawyer to provide pragmatic, business-minded legal advice to their firm and client.
Strong oral and written communication skills are vital for lawyers because, without them, they will struggle to carry out their basic duties. Excellent listening ability is equally important when working with clients because lawyers need to be able to build lasting relationships and establish confidence.
Lawyers need to be sound and confident speakers when arguing in court, negotiating settlements, and explaining complex information. Moreover, being persuasive, clear, and concise is yet another skill lawyers need to possess.
Strong writing abilities are important when drafting letters and legal documents. Additionally, an understanding of technical and legal language and being able to convey the information clearly is also a skill a lawyer must master.
In summary, the law as a profession is not only exciting but offers a host of opportunities. However, being successful in this competitive environment requires aspiring lawyers to master certain skills apart from a solid understanding of the laws that govern a nation. Individuals aspiring to become lawyers must ensure that they take the time to develop necessary soft skills to lead a successful professional life as a lawyer.
Dr. Purvi Pokhariyal, Director & Dean
Dr. Purvi Pokhariyal, Director and Dean, has been the Founding Faculty of the Institute of Law, Nirma University. She specializes in the area of Criminal Justice Studies and Justice Education. Professor Pokhariyal holds a Master's degree in law with a specialization in Criminal Law and a doctoral degree in the Constitutional Law from Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, Vadodara.