Do you know what it takes to be a good lawyer? A lot of core skills and attributes! This article explores all the things future legal practitioners need to excel at practicing law. Keep reading below to find out more!
As a future legal practitioner, you’ve likely asked yourself “how do you become a good lawyer?” more than once. Find out that the answer isn’t that straightforward. There are many things you need to have in order to have a successful career in law.
But, one thing is for sure: if you’re really serious about practicing the law, start by realizing that careers in law are nothing like they are portrayed in TV series and shows. These Hollywoodian scrips offer a distorted portrait of the successful lawyer, which in real life isn’t exactly true.
In the real world, lawyers need some specific traits to succeed at being a lawyer. Here’s what you need to find success while practicing law.
You need to be passionate about the job.
You know what they say, “choose a job you love, and you will never work a day in your life.” We all know it’s not that easy in the real world, but there is quite some scientific evidence that passion for work really does matter a lot. As with any other job on this planet, when you’re passionate about what you’re doing, you’re more likely to do it right. The practice of law is no exception to this rule.
As a starting point, most successful lawyers have been driven throughout their careers by a true passion for their job. So, ask yourself if you really are passionate about being a lawyer because the answer can either positively or negatively influence how well you’ll do your job as a lawyer in the future.
Gain knowledge of the law.
Passion for the job is essential, but it isn’t enough if you lack all the necessary skills actually to do the job.
While this one isn’t enough to be a great lawyer, as you need many other things as well, it is an absolute must. To be a good lawyer, you need to know everything about the legal field inside out, from legal terminology to every law or exception to the rule.
Great lawyers know their area of practice inside out. There’s no arguing with that. Some knowledge comes from Law School, independent learning, and most of it comes from experience.
So, even if you were sleeping and woken at 3 am to talk about a specific law or explain a particular legal term, you should know what to say. That’s how excellent your knowledge of the law should be!
You need practical skills and knowledge.
If you’ve always been passionate about the idea of practicing law, you’ve likely seen all movies that feature courtroom hearings by now. Great! Now forget everything that you saw there because, as mentioned before, that’s not what being a lawyer in the courtroom is in real life.
You won’t just have an inspiring moment in the courtroom that makes everybody understand who the bad guy is and who is the innocent. In the real-life, you’ll need actual skills and arguments to prove your client’s innocence.
Plus, being a lawyer is also not just the theoretical stuff you’ve learned at Law School. You’ll also need a significant amount of practical skills and experience. In other words, you’ll need the practical, day-to-day skills that lawyers use in the courtroom and prior to the trial to prepare a case.
Besides Law School that teaches you all the theoretical stuff about practicing law, a practical legal training program is also a must to develop the practical skills and proficiency in the day-to-day practice of law.
Know how to work well with others.
By no means are teamwork skills necessary to law exclusively, but they are crucial in doing your job as a lawyer. Realize that being a lawyer means working with people. A lot of people actually, from fellow attorneys to judges, clients, court clerks, witnesses, and so on. So, you need to be a “people person” to find success.
Sure, it’s true that lawyers must always have their clients’ interests at heart. But, this sometimes can mean that those interests will be best served if the lawyer uses some effective strategies such as compromising with opposing counsel. That’s probably the most challenging teamwork a lawyer must do.
In movies and TV shows, we see lawyers either winning or losing their cases in majestic ways. But, the truth is that in the real world, lawyers must use their teamwork skills for the case to be settled before it reaches the courtroom. So, to work amicably with the other side to find a fair settlement for both parties, you need to know how to work in a team.
Have outstanding communication skills.
Through the nature of the job, lawyers are communicators. They need to communicate with law firms, their clients, other parties to the case, and everyone at the court. Beyond the number of people who they have to communicate with, they also need to do it in a wide range of different ways.
More precisely, not all your clients will have the same level of education or be as better communicators as you are. To understand and communicate with people like this, you’ll meet throughout your career, and you’ll have to modify your language, vocabulary, tone, and physical communication to send or receive the right message.
Besides that, if you’re not a good communicator, how will you be able to talk in front of a judge and jury? How will you be able to understand your clients? And, how will your clients be able to work with you? So, last but not least, outstanding communication skills are an absolute must.