A good lawyer is highly skilled. You can start to develop the skills you need to become a good lawyer at A-Level, university, through work experience, a legal apprenticeship, a CILEx qualification, a law conversion course, and beyond.
You will be expected to develop a range of skills, from communication to research, and creative to logical thinking. To be a good lawyer, you must have:
Good lawyers never stop learning and are proactive, not reactive. The skills a lawyer needs are cultivated over time and come with experience. Whether you have just started studying law, just starting out on your legal career or you have 20 years of legal experience, you will continuously be developing these key lawyer skills.
A strong knowledge of the law is a key foundational skill for lawyers. If you plan to pursue a career in a specific area of law, dedicate your time to developing your legal knowledge in that legal discipline.
Good communication is the cornerstone of any lawyer-client relationship. You need to know how to communicate in all kinds of different situations, so you should never miss an opportunity to sharpen your communication skills. Listening and responsiveness are pillars of good communication as a lawyer, and are highly appreciated by clients facing challenging situations.
Creativity is also a key skill for lawyers. The law is not purely a science, there is an art to effective legal practice. In some cases, you will need to ‘think outside the box’ to find a solution. A good lawyer knows how to apply creativity under pressure.
Having excellent logical, analytical, research and writing skills are all hallmarks of a good lawyer. Successful lawyers must be able to prepare effective, clear and well-reasoned legal documents and arguments that require research, plus a strong analytical and logical approach.
The key personal quality for a lawyer is a true passion for the job. For example, if you are passionate about tackling key societal issues, you can fulfil your passion as a successful lawyer.
Equally, resilience is a personal quality for good lawyers. Some days, the legal profession can be tough and you will have to dig in because you will face demanding deadlines, complicated legal cases, high-stakes scenarios and even potentially vulnerable clients. You will also be subject to constant feedback and review from your peers, so a thick skin is essential for a good lawyer.
You must be motivated to be a good lawyer because you will often have to work long, challenging hours. Staying motivated helps to keep cases on track, ensures things aren’t overlooked and maintains your commitment to helping clients to the best of your ability.
A key characteristic of a good lawyer is organisation. There are a lot of components to the legal system, and being organised ensures that you maintain professional standards and adhere to legal processes. Lawyers work with all kinds of evidence and sensitive information.
Good organisation protects sensitive information from getting into the wrong hands, and helps to keep all legal documents in order, which is important if they need to be referred to during a case.
Legal cases can last months or even years, so patience is another key lawyer characteristic. Having patience enables you to act professionally when clients are pushing you for answers.
When acting on behalf of a client, a solid emotional balance is important. That’s where composure comes in. Legal cases can be intense, and a good lawyer will be able to stay composed under pressure to maintain a sense of respect and professionalism in all situations.
Working with clients as a lawyer requires compassion. There is a lot of emotion involved in legal cases, and demonstrating compassion can help a client feel more assured in difficult times. While it is important to separate your own emotions from challenging cases, showing compassion is useful when interacting with clients.
Powers of persuasion tie in with good people skills as a key characteristic of a good lawyer. Irrespective of academic qualities, lawyers work with people and on behalf of people every day, and the actions a lawyer takes, affect people’s lives. Convincing clients to take specific actions that are in their best interests often requires some gentle persuasion.
To become a good lawyer, you must invest in learning and developing your skills, your personal qualities and your character. Combining all these factors will help you develop all the attributes needed to succeed as a lawyer.
As a lawyer, you will have a responsibility to guide your clients through the legal system to the best of your ability. A good lawyer continuously develops their craft, maintaining their knowledge of the law and dedicating themselves to personal development.
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