This article is written by Shriyanshi Chitransh, a student of FIMT School of Law, GGSIPU. Here in this article, I have mentioned the soft skills that are expected from a legal professional and their importance in the career.
“The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.” – Theodore Roosevelt.
Being a lawyer has never been easy, starting from getting admission in a law school going for legal training, internship, and bar exams to national/international conferences, moot courts, debates, and presentations to improve the skills, can never be enough. To be on the top of the exam, a lawyer should not only have legal expertise but also have decent soft skills to make a reputation in society and be respected and appreciated for the kind of work a lawyer is focused on. The world is evolving way too fast and to keep up with the evolution and to be the best in the game, a lawyer needs to hone his skills according to the changing needs.
According to an article published in Forbes in the year 2019, Artificial Intelligence is a real threat to many paralegals and legal research positions. Therefore, attaining and ascertaining skills can be the smartest move one can choose to make.
Meaning of soft skills
It is essential to give importance to soft skills as well as hard skills. Hard skills will make you successful in practice but soft skills will take you to places. It is equally important to hone both the skills and to learn the difference between the two.
Hard skills are the skills that can be enhanced through practice and can always be taught. Being good in hard skills can be proved through receiving certificates, awards, foreign language proficiency, and work experience. Getting the highest marks on a bar exam and achieving an award are examples of hard skills.
Whereas, soft skills are difficult to determine in one’s Curriculum vitae, and are hard to define. These skills are more about how you behave as well as how you communicate to other people, and whether you’re competent enough to handle the problem and how attentive you’re to their issue. Having these are called interpersonal skills or people skills. Your flexibility, problem-solving skills, motivation, and time management come under this category.
Having command of both skills is really crucial in order to be successful in one’s profession and to be able to be part of this legal profession and to be accepted in the modern-digitalized world.
Importance of Soft skills for a Lawyer
No matter in which stage of your life you are in, you are always going to need good soft skills to impress people. Having great soft skills is the utmost important part of being a lawyer. We use soft skills on a daily basis at work and developing these soft skills will help to win more businesses than usual and will give a push to the career of a lawyer.
Lack of soft skills can be the reason for the downfall of the career and shall limit one’s potential. Strong leadership, communication abilities, teamwork can make the work run smoothly and efficiently and people are easily pleased. Lawyers have the most job is to impress the judge through his/her/their interpersonal skills. A lawyer can’t thrive with only theoretical knowledge, he/she/they must have good soft skills to win the cases and impress people. Interaction with other people really paves the path for a lawyer. Inquiring good soft skills are really beneficial in personal life too.
Below are some examples of why soft skills are considered important and potent:
- Kick start to the career and further progression and profession: It has been believed that a professional with good soft skills are expected to do better in the profession and get a promotion as compared to the person who has more experience in the related field.
Every other aspirant is looking in the same direction, trying to achieve similar things but it is the soft skills that will make a person stand out from others.
- Clients demand soft skills: The ability to communicate with clients at a human level is very vital as this is the most important aspect of being a lawyer. To easily communicate with the client and listen to their problem and provide them assistance and win the case eventually. Soft skills influence the clients.
- The modern workplace is interpersonal: One’s interpersonal skills tell a lot about the environment of their workplace. Being acquired with strong soft skills makes the place a more productive, collaborative, and happy-going healthy work environment. In the modern workplace, communicating with colleagues, being attentive to the details are highly valued and appreciated.
- Soft skills are in high demand by the recruiters: Every job has an interview stage where the recruiters can acknowledge the interpersonal skills of the person coming for the interview. Having soft skills is crucial because that’s the only way the lawyer can communicate well and runs the workplace smoothly and efficiently. Social interaction is as important as having proficiency in one subject of law.
- The future workplace relies on soft skills: With the advancement of artificial intelligence, most of the work will be taken away by computers and other devices so having traditional skills like teamwork, communication, and critical thinking will be given more importance than before. A study by Deloitte Access Economics predicted that by 2030 about two-thirds of all jobs will be of soft skills intensive occupations.
Soft skills are important and law students should do such activities which will broaden their mindset such as volunteering, leading a team, or even working on a project with other people will help to not only create great social skills but also enhance the thinking range of a person.
Variety of Soft Skills required by a lawyer
There is a huge range of soft skills that a lawyer should possess which are stated below:
- Attention to detail: When applying for a job or internships, recruiters really look into minute details of the CV of the person applying, any grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, or even punctuation can cost one’s job. Accuracy is important to have success in the legal arena. A single mistake can cost a loss to the firm. Inaccuracy gives a bad impression in the eyes of the clients.
- Persistence: Being persistent is a key for being called a good lawyer. Lawyers who sit idle and wait for the information to come to them may not get many cases but the lawyers who keep working and adhere to achieve the desired outcome for their clients. A good lawyer would never let anything affect him and deter him from his goals.
- Teamwork: Joining a team can be the best way to hone your people’s skills. Working alongside a variety of people can help to engage more with people and get to know their mindset and learn from each other. When a person works in a team he/she/they get to work with people of all the positions from trainees and pupils to the members of the judiciary. It’s important to have a good relationship with the clients and be nice and polite with them. Being personable and persuasive keeps in good books of the clients.
- Commercial awareness: A lawyer should be known of his surroundings and must be aware of the recent development in local, national, and world business, especially any issues concerning a law firm and its clients. Firms expect their employees to develop trust relationships with the clients and market their services to prospective clients. Meanwhile, a client expects the lawyer to be knowledgeable, and listen, and actually understand how their business is run and how any social, political, or economic issue can make an impact. A lawyer should always think strategically about the clients’ business and its strength and weakness and be able to provide legal advice to them to the best of their ability.
- Communication: Being a legal representative, it is very important to have a command over your oral and communications skills otherwise dealing with clients will become really hard and may never reach the conclusion because of the lack of sufficient discussion. To build confidence and relationships with the clients, your listening ability will make a difference here. You need to be a confident speaker when arguing in court, negotiating settlements, or explaining complex situations to the clients. You need to use persuasive and succinct language in order to get things done.
- Creative problem solving: A lawyer’s whole motto of being a lawyer is to solve the problem. Sometimes it’s not a piece of cake and they have to think out of the box to solve the problem. There, a lawyer needs to have a creative problem-solving mind to get things done. All the experienced lawyers and judges know, the best course of action is not always the easiest or the most salient one.
- Information analysis and research: To flourish in the field of law, being able to identify what is pertinent out of the mass information and explain it clearly and precisely to their client is important. One can gain experience in this by jotting down a few most important themes of a large document or news article. Knowing how to do proper research plays a very vital role in the day-to-day life of a lawyer.
- Organization: A lawyer job is the most complicated and hectic job out there. Juggling between courts, legal documents, research, contract drafting, etc. but organization skills to manage all these things and still prioritize what’s important is what makes a good lawyer. To be better at your organizational skills, one should be able to do it through some training or maybe engage in some organizational events.
- Resilience: Resilience goes hand in hand with confidence and determination. This is a tough job. It is not going to be easy, rejection is a part of the job and so is not giving up. Apply, send follow up and reapply if necessary. There is a huge competition out there and you have to make your place with your determination and resilience.
Ways to develop Soft skills for a lawyer
There are plenty of ways one can develop soft skills, here are some:
- Open to feedback: A large part of being a lawyer is to always open to feedback which you may receive from your mentors, supervisors, or managers. Criticism is good when they are constructive and one can use that information to work on those that include soft skills.
- Cordial relationship at the workplace: Communication with colleagues or managers can help to develop soft skills. As you build positive relationships with your coworkers they can advise you professionally which will eventually help you hone your soft skills.
- Get ready to accept failures and successes granted: When a person goes through a phase of improving one’s skills he may or may not face few setbacks as well as successes but it’s all part of the job. The one thing that remains constant throughout the process is learning from them.
- Be adaptable to workplace changes: Be ready to easily and steadily adapt to changes being taken along with your professional journey. Office changes, staff changes and even the company can be bought but you should be compatible enough to adapt through those changes and work on your pace as and when required. Always be open to new technologies and freshers as they are on the same journey as yours.
- Be punctual and observe others: A lawyer’s seriousness is clearly evident in his mannerisms of how he takes up his job. Being punctual shows how adamant a lawyer towards his work and the respect he has towards his clients. Observing others can be very helpful because every human has a way of handling things and having polite relationships with others. It might help to improve one’s soft skills.
The economy is recovering and law firms in India are exceeding in numbers as well as their demand too. Lawyers are expected to be well-versed. Communication is the main factor in a legal business. Lack of Communication is among the topmost complaints reported by the clients. Communication, service orientation, relationship building is paramount to a lawyer engaging to have an emerging and successful legal life. It’s time to stop making soft skills for granted and start placing them on the list of priorities because these soft skills hold high accountability and importance in an attorney’s life.
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