A legal degree furnishes students with a complex understanding of the law and how to apply it. Lawyers therefore need a diverse set of skills in order to effectively convey information, argue successfully, and advocate for their clients. Below is a list of some of the basic skills every law graduate will need for their career.
Communication skills refer to the use of the written and spoken word for relaying information. For the sake of clarity, information needs to be presented in a clear and concise manner, which requires having an exceptional grasp of spelling and grammar, as well as understanding how language can be used to persuade and engage, and knowing when it is appropriate to use jargon or technical terms, such as with clients versus other lawyers. This is also why lawyers have a preference for recording and taking notes of all correspondence and dealings, for their clients’ and their own accountability and for easier reference at a later date.
The vast majority of lawyers work face-to-face with clients in order to service their needs, so it almost goes without saying that lawyers need to present themselves as personable and professional at all times, even when dealing with difficult or argumentative people. One of the most basic skills for a lawyer to learn is the ability to listen to their client, as people will feel that their problems will be handled effectively if their lawyer can show understanding and empathy.
Attention to detail
The phrase “to dot the i’s and cross the t’s” is ideally suited to describe the level of detail required by lawyers to carry out their work effectively. While those untrained in the law may feel intimidated by the complex use of legal language in documents, lawyers use their finely honed skills to ensure that “all bases are covered” and clients or consumers receive no unexpected surprises. One of the advantages of having a great attention to detail is that this skill can not only serve you well in your legal career but can be applied to all facets of your professional and private life.
The complexities of the law and the cases in which the law needs to be applied mean that lawyers need to develop effective strategies for solving a multitude of problems. This can often involve some creative thinking, finding a solution through an unconventional or innovative method, in order to work out the best way to handle a problem. It is safe to say that anyone undertaking a career in law will be tasked with solving an array of problems, from the simple to the utterly complex, so developing this skill is absolutely paramount.
It is well known that those working within the law field often face tremendous pressures from many competing priorities, such as meetings with clients, formulating documents, court appearances, and other time-sensitive activities. While many lawyers will utilise paralegals and assistants for certain tasks, it is up to the individual to plan and use their time effectively, so that clients get what they pay for and work is completed efficiently.
In the days before the internet, lawyers would need to pore through volumes of legal books in search of precedents, statutes, and other necessary information, which took up much time, effort and cost. With the digital age, researching has been made much easier, however there is more to research than simply typing a few words into Google. Good research skills require the use of language, logic and an open mind in order to find what you’re looking for, as well as being aware of the many avenues that can be used for sourcing information.