Thinking of starting a career in law? If that is the case, it is important to know early on the skills needed to be a lawyer - and a good one, that is. The legal industry is highly competitive at the junior end of the spectrum, both within private practice and in-house, to become a consultant lawayer you will need to have the right skills to distinguish yourself from the competition.
While the list is certainly not exhaustive, one could argue that strong research ability coupled with succinct writing skills, along with attention to detail and a solution-based outlook to problem solving will be rigorously tested in the early stages of your career. You will also need to be able to work well under pressure and have excellent communication aptitudes. If you have these essential lawyer key skills, you will be in an advantageous position compared to your peers.
In addition to these core essential skills, there are also some other ones that will be helpful in your career as a lawyer. Think of time management, organisational and multitasking skills. If you can develop these , you will increase your chances of a successful career in the legal field.
For more insight into the legal sector, you can contact our legal recruitment firm and speak to one our our soecialist consultants who are knowlegedable in the space. They can advise you on bes pratices, currrent vancancies and help with your new in-house legal job search.
Research Skills: At the Top of the List of Core Law Skills
Research skills are arguably one of the more imperative skills a prospective solicitor will need to develop. The ability to digest large and usually complex matters and then present a detailed yet accurate assessment to superiors is essential throughout your career.
It is crucial that you develop this ability to identify relevant - and key - information whenever you read documentation in relation to a given case, briefing, opinion or report. Background work is a key part of a lawyer’s core duties, hence why research skills and preparation are at the top of the list.
How do you develop this if you wish to better yourself on that front, why not start by reading long articles and blogs on niche subjects and then summarise the whole piece in a few concise sentences. You can even go deeper in the process by conducting some further research on key terms, cases or situations mentioned in the document you are reading.
The Importance of Strong Writing Skills
As mentioned previously, the ability to write professionally, clearly and with purpose is essential within law. Whether it's contracts, letters to clients, the opposition, or opinion pieces. For some, this translates into writing contracts. For others, writing comes in the form of drafting documents for court. No matter what industry you operate in, a legal job will involve writing on a frequent basis.
Having strong writing skills will enable you to solidify your credibility in front of potential or current clients - and your employer. You should be able to convey thoughts, ideas and strategies effectively - and without any spelling mistakes! Employers (and clients) have high expectations of lawyers as a whole, and great communication skills are vital for a successful career in the field. It is worth reiterating that one will usually be dealing with a layman, and it is your responsibility to ensure complex issues are presented in a digestible manner.
The Devil’s in the Details
In the legal field, a few simple words strategically put in a contract can have the potential to generate big consequences. There is some fascinating case law surrounding this that I would implore any aspiring solicitor to read. It is of the utmost importance that they have the ability to go through each document and spot the key information as well as potential issues.
In law, missing a single, simple detail can make all the difference. Always remember, the legal profession and one’s professional integrity are always being scrutinised. Tread with care and the desired outcome will naturally follow.
Commercial Awareness in a Legal Context
We tend to hear the phrase ‘commercial awareness’ often within the industry. Buzzword? Maybe. Carefully tested? Absolutely. It’s much more than a buzzword being thrown around in conversations and interviews. In a legal context, commercial awareness sits high in the list of skills necessary for lawyers, particularly when one is beginning their first foray into the industry. Whether you are considering a career in-house or within private practice, your employer will expect you to be aware of the latest legal trends, news and developments within your sector which are likely to have an impact on the business you work for. Let’s not forget, a practice is ultimately a business like any other.
There will also be an expectation from you to market the firm to any prospective client and further develop or maintain professional relationships they have. Commercial awareness in a legal context is all about understanding how a law firm - or any other business if you are in-house - makes money and how your function plays a role in it. Seizing opportunities when you see them, anticipating trends and acting on these decisions will improve your standing in any professional interaction or undertaking.
Furthermore, if you are in private practice, you will be dealing with a vast number of clients on a regular basis. These clients will expect you to also understand the intricacies of their business, any issues that may or are likely to present themselves and how they operate. Since your role will be to provide sound legal advice to your clients’ issues, a strong understanding of how a business operates and how your advice may affect a firm’s operations is absolutely crucial.
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