Digital literacy does not come naturally to everyone. In fact, it is fairly common to not feel completely confident in Microsoft Excel, for instance. But, if this is your case, getting on top of these digital skills should be a priority.
Why? First of all, it is impressive. Being digitally competent, even if you cannot use programming languages or code, is a great skill to have. It shows that you can organise documents and information digitally, prepare good presentations and complex spreadsheets, all of which you will need to do as a trainee and lawyer. There is a reason LinkedIn have their skill quizzes!
Secondly, your awareness of different software and programmes means that you will be able to keep up with the rapid growth of technology, which all law firms will be affected by. You would also not be spending the firm’s time and money on learning a new skill, which gives you a bit of extra appeal compared to your less digitally-aware peers.
There are plenty of online resources which can help you become more digitally competent, including free courses. What you need to do in order to improve this skill, however, is set apart a good amount of time to spend on it. Software is quite complex, so you need to consider the time it will take you to learn how to navigate it!
It goes without saying that having organisational and planning skills is a must in such as a fast-paced industry as law. Throughout your career, you will be expected to juggle various tasks and cases at the same time, all the while having to meet deadlines. Therefore, the earlier you streamline this skill, the better.
Organisation in the digital age is not necessarily easier than it used to be. If you don’t actively organise your documents, you might lose some essential pieces of information that will cost you later on. Make sure you keep tabs on your important documents by uploading them on a cloud.
Another organisational downside of technology is the time you might lose online, doom-scrolling or getting side-tracked. Procrastination is a huge contemporary issue; when you have a whole other world to explore right at your fingertips, sending emails can wait a little longer. But procrastination can degenerate into a lack of self-control. Try building a time log and completing it over a week in order to identify when and why you tend to lose time online.
Social media is an indisputably essential component of business branding and marketing nowadays. It creates the perfect environment for businesses to push their products to potentially-interested individuals – and law firms are businesses too.
Therefore, showing an awareness of the impact that social media can have on image and branding is important, particularly when discussing your firm’s culture in an interview, for instance. Make sure you also demonstrate your knowledge on the importance of data analysis and other digital tools in your interviews. Also, as a member of the firm’s younger generation, knowing the ins-and-outs of social media and how to cater to different platforms might just be your golden ticket!
Communication is the backbone of a legal career. Whether you are presenting a case, comforting a client, or persuading your supervisor, being able to communicate efficiently in any given situation is a must. Nowadays, lawyers are required to communicate digitally and in writing on a daily basis.
Writing an email might seem like a mundane skill to have – but just how confident are you in your email-writing skills? Emailing your colleague should be completely different in terms of tone, vocabulary, and structure from emailing your boss, which in turn should be completely different from emailing a client persuading them to accept a deal.
Digitally-specific written communication is an easily-achievable skill. Research the various types of email that there are, complete with sign-offs and addresses, and make sure you understand the subtle differences in vocabulary which affect an email’s tone. Once you have done this, all you need to do is practice!
From the very beginning of your career as a trainee, and right until the very end as a partner, you will be part of a team. Being a good team-player involves recognising and respecting the contribution of people who have different skills or expertise to you and learning how to delegate when it’s appropriate.
Lawyers are always collaborating. Sometimes you’ll need to pull together to focus on various aspects of a case, or you might need to create a team of people with varying areas of expertise to solve complex challenges for your clients. The law is incredibly broad, and you would never be able to cover all of it by yourself – so remember the importance of networking and collaboration in this field!
In this day and age, a lot of business communication is done online. Make sure you keep in touch with valuable collaborators and check in with them from time to time – and most importantly, make sure you return any favours! Remember, few things are as important as networking in this field.
Do you struggle with this? Check out these networking tips for people who hate networking.
By Ariana Serafinceanu
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