10 Essential Lawyer Skills
1. ORAL COMMUNICATION
Language is one of the most fundamental tools of the legal profession. Legal professionals must be able to:
- Convey information in a clear, concise, and logical manner.
- Communicate persuasively.
- Advocate a position or a cause.
- Master legal terminology.
- Develop keen listening skills.
2. CLIENT SERVICE
In the client-focused legal industry, serving the client honestly, capably and responsibly is crucial to success. Legal professionals must master:
- Client needs assessment skills.
- Customer service skills.
- Client communication skills.
3. WRITTEN COMMUNICATION
Writing is an integral function of nearly every legal position, from simple correspondence to drafting complex legal documents. Legal professionals must:
- Master the stylistic and mechanical aspects of writing.
- Master the fundamentals of English grammar.
- Learn to write organised, concise and persuasive prose.
- Draft effective legal documents such as motions, briefs, memorandums, resolutions and legal agreements.
4. ANALYTICAL AND LOGICAL REASONING
Legal professionals must learn to review and assimilate large volumes of complex information in an efficient and effective manner. The required legal analytical and logical reasoning skills include:
- Reviewing complex written documents, drawing inferences and making connections with legal authorities.
- Developing critical thinking, organisation and problem-solving abilities.
- Structuring and evaluating arguments.
- Using inductive and deductive reasoning to draw inferences and reach conclusions.
5. LEGAL RESEARCH
Researching legal concepts, case law, judicial opinions, statutes, regulations and other information is an important legal skill. Legal professionals must:
- Master legal research techniques.
- Learn how to locate and analyse legal authority.
- Master the art of statutory interpretation.
- Learn proper legal citation.
- Master legal research software applications and Internet research.
Technology is evolving the legal landscape and has become an integral part of every legal function. To remain effective in their jobs, legal professionals must:
- Master a variety of word processing, presentation, time billing and practice-related software applications.
- Master communications technology including e-mails, voice messaging systems, videoconferencing and related technology.
- Become familiar with electronic discovery, computerised litigation support and document management software.
- Become proficient with legal research software and Internet research.
- Develop the technology related aptitude to make wise technological decisions.
7. KNOWLEDGE OF SUBSTANTIVE LAW AND LEGAL PROCEDURE
All legal professionals, regardless of career level, must have a basic knowledge of substantive law and legal procedure which include:
- Local, state and federal court systems.
- Relevant filing deadlines.
- Fundamental principles of law in areas of practice.
- Relevant legal terminology.
8. TIME MANAGEMENT
In a profession based on the business model of billable hours which has direct correlation with financial gain, legal professionals are under constant pressure to enhance productivity and therefore must develop:
- Superior multi-tasking skills.
- A strong work ethic.
- The ability to juggle competing priorities.
- The ability to meet tight deadlines.
- Calendar management skills.
Legal professionals do not work in a solitary profession. Practitioners must rely on secretaries and support staff and team up with co-counsel, experts and vendors to deliver legal services. Since the needs of the client may transcend the skills of one attorney, one paralegal or one practice group, teamwork is essential to both individual and organisational success. Required teamwork skills include:
- Collaborating with others to reach a common goal.
- Coordinating and sharing of information and knowledge.
- Cultivating working relationships with colleagues, staff, clients, experts, vendors and such.
- Attending and participating in team events, meetings and conferences.
Legal professionals must be able to manage large volumes of data and documents, which requires top-notch organisational skills that include:
- The ability to sort, order and manage large volumes of exhibits, documents, files, evidence, data and other information.
- The ability to identify objectives, catalogue data and create an effective and organized structure from massive amounts of unrelated information.
- The ability to use technology applications that assist in managing case-related data.