What Are Lawyer Skills? (With Steps to Improve Them)
By Indeed Editorial Team
Published June 2, 2022
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
Lawyers can work in various law fields, which present unique responsibilities. Regardless of which law field they work in, all lawyers can benefit from developing certain skills that help them complete their tasks effectively. If you're pursuing a career as a lawyer or are already a lawyer hoping to improve your skills, learning more about them and how to improve them can be highly beneficial for your career.
In this article, we define lawyer skills, provide a list of types, discuss how to improve them, including applying these skills in the workplace, and share how you can highlight them during the hiring process.
What are lawyer skills?
Lawyer skills encompass a variety of hard and soft skills that are both specific to the profession and transferable. Communication, knowledge of law practices, protocols, and regulations, interpersonal skills, and the ability to think critically and solve problems are several skills that can help you succeed as an attorney. Many lawyers are also technically savvy, where they commonly use programs and applications, such as word processors, scheduling applications, technical communication tools, and spreadsheet software.
Types of lawyer skills
Lawyers rely on a range of hard and soft skills to achieve success and positive outcomes for their clients. There are several skills you can develop as a lawyer, including:
Analytical and research skills
Lawyers rely heavily on their ability to perform deep research into topics relating to cases. The ability to analyze details, infer context from clients and witnesses, and synthesize complex information is crucial to being a successful lawyer.
Attention to detail
It's crucial for lawyers to consider all factors within a case, even if it seems insignificant. These professionals rely on their attention to detail to identify inconsistencies in clients' cases, obscure witness information, or find out more about other types of reliable data.
Many lawyers increase their financial literacy skills, especially professionals who start their own private firms. Some financial skills you may want to develop include understanding tax laws and principles, balancing a ledger, billing clients, and calculating profits. It's also important that you can simplify financial information for clients.
Lawyers interact and work with a variety of diverse clients and professionals. It's highly advantageous to have strong interpersonal skills, including empathy and the ability to connect with others. Interpreting emotions, providing support, and resolving conflict are some skills that lawyers commonly rely on when working with their clients.
Keeping client records and important documents protected and orderly is essential for lawyers. Many of these professionals utilize different methods for keeping things organized. You can consider using computer applications to track schedules, appointments, hearings, and other job-related events.
Lawyers apply persuasive techniques in their jobs frequently, especially court lawyers. Persuasive communication requires relating to others, finding their pain points, and using methods for solving cases and achieving success. Although persuasive communication is helpful when convincing others to agree to a common cause, lawyers usually apply persuasive techniques to achieve positive outcomes for their clients.
Technical skills, including specialized skills specific to the field, are becoming more desirable for lawyers. For example, working with computer applications like spreadsheets, word processors, and online applications are several technical aspects of the job. Knowledge of the law field and the technical terms, laws, and protocols can also help you succeed in your career.
Effective time management is also critical in this career. Typically, lawyers charge for their services on a per-hour basis, which means staying on track during client meetings, mediation, hearings, and other tasks during working hours. Besides scheduling and tracking time spent with clients, it's also important to dedicate time to different job functions, such as researching, compiling paperwork, or gathering information.
Written communication skills
Lawyers perform many writing tasks throughout their workdays, and strong written communication is a highly desirable trait in this profession. Legal writing, documenting caseloads and casework, writing query letters, letters of demand, and other applications are several writing tasks you may perform in your career. Reading well-written copies of these documents can help you improve your writing.
How to improve lawyer skills
Here are five steps that you can take to improve these skills:
1. Dedicate time to learning your field
Commit to spending additional time outside of work and learning more about your field of practice as you start your career. Consider networking with other lawyers, reading law publications, or examining old cases. This time can help you develop a deep understanding of your specific field so you can provide the best service to your clients.
2. Practise your persuasive skills
Practising your persuasive skills is especially critical if you choose to work as a court lawyer, where you regularly appear before a judge, courtroom, and jury. Practise techniques like telling the story, maintaining eye contact, finishing your discussion with a strong point, and connecting with your listeners. You can develop these skills by practising conducting a speech or listening to recordings of your speeches.
3. Develop your legal writing skills
lt's likely you might spend time during your career documenting casework, relating information, researching, and conveying your research in writing. You can improve your writing skills through practice. Try to apply writing techniques, including vocabulary usage, creating context, and recording information clearly and concisely to help develop your skills in the area.
4. Learn techniques for coping with stress
The profession of a lawyer can become quite stressful, so it's essential that you develop your ability to deal with fast-paced and stressful environments. Learn healthy coping techniques for managing stress, like meditation, breathing, and light exercise. When you adopt healthy coping mechanisms, you can better overcome stressful situations and focus on completing your tasks.
Read more: How to Deal With Burnout
5. Improve your conflict resolution techniques
Lawyers commonly act as mediators in a variety of settings. Conflict resolution skills and the ability to collaborate and solve problems are essential to a successful career as a lawyer. You can develop your understanding of common conflict resolution methods and practise active listening and clear communication to help clients.
Applying your skills in the workplace
As you advance in your career, you may want to demonstrate your knowledge and expertise in the workplace. The following approaches include several ways you can showcase your skills:
Ask for feedback: Ask your clients about your approaches to documenting their cases, working with witnesses, and other aspects of your time with them. You can also request feedback from your superiors or more experienced attorneys to help you further develop in your career.
Help others organize: Offer to help colleagues and clients stay organized by compiling data, categorizing evidence, filing records, and performing other documentation tasks. This effort shows your willingness to help and your ability to apply effective organizational methods in the office.
Offer support in complex cases: If you notice a colleague is working on a challenging case or needs assistance with some aspect of their project, provide support. For instance, you may assist them with legal research, compiling data, and documenting records.
Proofread colleagues' work: You can support your colleagues when they complete legal writing tasks by helping to proofread and review their documents. This effort highlights your interpersonal skills, attention to detail, collaboration skills, and teamwork.
Highlighting your lawyer skills
When you're in the hiring process, you can demonstrate your experience by highlighting your skills on your cover letter and resume and during your interview. Here's an explanation of how you can do this for each:
In your cover letter, provide details about your knowledge, experience, and credentials. Give examples of how these skills helped you achieve an outcome in your past job. Then, highlight how you plan to apply your skills on the job to contribute to achieving company objectives. This inclusion shows employers evidence of your past success combined with your plan to achieve similar results for them if they decide to hire you.
During an interview, you're likely to encounter behavioural and situational interview questions that help the interviewer understand your skills. Showcase your qualifications and skills by describing a situation from your experience. Then, specify how you approached the problem and positively affected it.
Include your unique experience and skills on your resume so employers notice them. You can use a professional profile or even a distinct section for your skills. Incorporate action words that show employers how you succeeded in the past and what accomplishments you made throughout your career. Be sure to include your skills that directly relate to the job description and what the employer is looking for in a candidate.
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