The fast-paced, high-stakes drama of Law and Order, Suits, or even Daredevil might make being a lawyer sexy, but the legal sector is a demanding place to operate. It takes a special type of person working under pressure to elevate themselves from the competition. Often it comes down to easy-to-understand attributes applied with creativity and distinction.
If you are looking for the best of the best or wanting to graduate to elite status, these are the features to pursue:
1) Staying Passionate and Knowledgeable
The legal sector is not a place for the fake it till you make it types. The best lawyers love the law from learning it to applying it. There are no exceptions to this as the passionate lawyer continues studying long after graduating law school as the thirst for learning is never quite quelled.
Having a burning passion is what keeps your lawyer working on your case long after business hours. If a lawyer doesn’t have passion, how do you know they will do everything in their power for you?
2) Exemplifying Trustworthy Judgment and Analytical Skills
Making the right call at the right time is utterly paramount for a lawyer. Each and every day, high-level lawyers are required to draw logical conclusions from available data and leverage that in persuasive arguments. While this sounds purely based on trial or hearing experience, it undoubtedly permeates every facet from contract negotiations to research and due diligence.
3) Demonstrating Compassion
The legal industry garners a reputation for being cut-throat, but this doesn’t paint a fair picture of the foundation of lawyering – compassion. Often overlooked, compassion is the driver to represent a client who we believe needs fair assistance under the law. Appreciating one’s unfortunate circumstances is a major asset to personal motivation and delivering a high standard of client care. Clients need to feel heard and cared for to truly trust their lawyers.
4) Stay Technology Savvy
The industry of law has been mired in tradition for centuries. The occurrences of innovation were typically reserved for the application of precedence and case law but the infusion of technology is changing that. Legal document software, automation, AI, and new digitally augmenting software are filtering through the legal practice. While inefficiency may not always have been a cause for concern for legal firms, a shift in client expectations means tolerance for outdated practices has diminished.
Growing law firms, recently graduated lawyers, and anyone looking to gain a competitive advantage needs to leverage the technology solutions available on the market today. The ABA approves new software options regularly giving lawyers hours of time back for billable work. Few skills will be as important as enhancing service through the use of technology going forward.
5) Always Be Organized
The organization is critical in everything a lawyer does. Managing caseloads, court appearances, disclosures, client files, meetings, knowing everything there is to know about the United States Code — and the list goes on. The reputational and embarrassment risks can directly impact the lawyer, client, and firm’s futures. Furthermore, where a lawyer fails in an organization, lasting impressions can be left with judges, clients, and opposing counsel. It may seem over the top to characterize an organization in such terms but it is one skill that can be damaging in the long term.
6) Clear and Concise Communication
Being the most brilliantly educated mind with compassionate tendencies is largely moot without effective communication skills. The role of a lawyer hinges on this ability. Communication underpins the construction of cases and delivery of persuasive arguments and in turn, is a hallmark of the most successful lawyers. However, communication isn’t just the ability to talk. It’s also the ability to listen and hear. From registering client concerns to finding weaknesses in opposing arguments or depositions, lawyers need to be incredibly acute listeners.
If you have graduated from law school, you likely know a thing or two about perseverance. Again, perseverance is one of the common denominator attributes found in successful lawyers. The willingness to endure and not give up the fight can be the bedrock of winning many cases. Late nights, overturning seemingly lost causes or going to the ends of the earth for your clients is a trademark of any good lawyer.
8) 2020 Foresight
The year 2020 dented the confidence of the forward planners amongst us but it remains critical on several levels. Firstly, change happens all the time in the world of law. New evidence is uncovered and opposition actions are levied. Foresight and keeping on your toes are valuable characteristics to crafting bullet-proof arguments and ensuring you never get blind-sided.
Secondly and on an organizational level, the ability to see sectoral change coming is essential. Law firms have just navigated the most disruptive change in recent memory as the need for digital offices grew out of nowhere. Keeping eyes on the future helps lawyers find that legal document software or AI that drives up profitability and competitive advantage. Those who refuse to be forward thinkers are often the casualties of obsolescence.
The legally ignorant will question the place of creativity on this list but I assure you, it belongs. Without the ability to think differently, you will always be outmaneuvered by your peers. Knowing the law is obviously essential but applying it and problem solving relies on creative thinking. Simply put, you can’t prepare for every eventuality if you can’t think of unique ways your opposition can attack.
Lawyers play an intriguing role within modern society. While many industries require definitive specializations in different fields, lawyers need to be experts in numerous areas.
Your field demands that you exude excellence in knowing the law inside out whilst being creative enough to apply it uniquely. You ought to be hardened enough to endure late nights of research and delivering firm, sometimes, harsh counters whilst also being equipped with soft empathetic people skills. The legal field is uncompromising on the skills required but knowing what begets success is half the battle!