Law is a fascinating field that is a fulfilling choice for a career. Law firms look for a mix of competencies and skills when hiring legal professionals – these are some of the top skills you should develop to achieve a successful career in law.
Ongoing desire to learn
Law is an incredibly varied subject and it impacts almost every aspect of our lives. To be successful in law, you need to have a desire to learn continually about the world around you, to be invested in your specialism in law and to have commercial awareness as law evolves.
Commercial awareness means having a strong knowledge not only of the developments to local and national law but also legal changes on a global scale, especially any issues that impact your clients or your specialist area of expertise. Law firms expect their staff to understand how wider social, political and economic issues will impact their clients and the firm as a whole.
People skills and a team player
Law firms involve a variety of people and completing a case is a team effort, so being able to work closely with others is vital. Lawyers need to be able to collaborate and foster close relationships with colleagues and clients alike, and there’ll be people from all stages of the career ladder that you’ll need to be able to work with, from trainees and interns through to members of the judiciary.
People skills are beneficial for more than simply making your working day easier. It’s essential that your clients trust you as their legal representative, so being personable and polite are crucial. This supports what law firm George Ide believe is a key factor that people will look for when choosing a lawyer: “It is definitely worth understanding the kind of reputation that a lawyer has. Clients will, and should, check to see if a lawyer has testimonials, reviews or even case studies from satisfied clients”. So, having positive people skills, personal referrals and being able to interact professionally is a priority when working in law.
Strong sense of judgement
Law professionals need to be able to draw logical conclusions or assumptions from the information they have available, and be able to consider their judgements critically. There may be areas of weakness in your argument or the arguments of others, which you need to be able to justify and back up with evidence and facts, so strong judgement skills are necessary so you can make the right decisions at the right time for your clients.
Confidence and communication
Strong oral and written communication skills are essential when you work in law. You need to be able to listen carefully when you’re working with clients and build relationships with them to instil confidence, and communication is at the heart of this. When you’re negotiating settlements, arguing your case in court or explaining issues to a client, strong communication skills and the ability to articulate clearly are vital.
Analytical and logical
The study and practice of law requires the ability to absorb large quantities of information and being able to condense it, then analysing the data you have to draw logical conclusions and resolve the situation. Prospects, specialists in graduate education, state that “being able to identify what is relevant out of a mass of information and explain it clearly and concisely to a client is key”. To be successful in law, having analytical and evaluative skills to choose what’s important over what’s not, is a top skill to develop.
Focused under pressure
A legal career is not an easy undertaking and there will be immense challenges, both in your studies and during your career. You’ll be working to tight deadlines, with huge amounts of work and being able to stay calm, focused and meet those deadlines each week will be a core part of the job. If working in law is something you aspire to, being able to stay focused and thrive under pressure is a quality you should develop further. This involves time management, being able to prioritise your tasks effectively and considering how you’ll manage issues as and when they arise.
Law is such a widespread and multi-faceted sector, with numerous areas of specialisms and sub-categories you can explore based on your personal interests and skill set. But the above skills and qualities are valuable regardless of which area of law you choose to go into. Communication, people skills and a passion for learning are critical for becoming a lawyer, but individuals pursuing a career in law also need to be able to tackle projects and tasks regardless of the pressures of the firm and be able to make effective judgement calls. Possessing many, if not all of this skill-set, will not only help to progress your own legal career but will enable you to maintain and foster the reputation of the firm you’re working for.