I got a sweet and smart message today from someone who just passed her class 10 board exam.
And the questions she asked really made me think of a few deeper things.
What are the basic skills missing in most law graduates today that make their career journey difficult?
Were the seeds of these difficulties sown while they were much younger?
Do the lawyers who developed good habits in their childhood and teenage succeed more than those who didn’t develop those abilities?
If you could go back to the time when you were in school or young formative years, what would you change about what you used to do? Could you change things that will have a huge positive impact?
What is the very interesting mail that sparked these thoughts in my mind?
“Hello sir, I’m tanvi and I just passed my 10th standard board exams. I read your book about law and it made me develop more interest in this field. I’ve also decided to take up law as a career. So I would like to ask you that initially what are the things that I can do. What are the areas in which I can improve myself. It would be a great help if you guide me for the same. Thank you.”
I gave her a quick answer because I often forget to reply to emails unless I do not do it the moment I see it.
But I made a plan to write a detailed answer as well.
What are the things that pre-law students, and definitely law students do, and what habits should they develop that their future success is supported or ensured by those habits?
Understand that habits are more valuable than tags
Young people in India are told that they need to acquire more and more tags in order to succeed in life. For instance, they need to get into IITs or NLUs to succeed. Then they have to go to IIMs. Then they have to get into big companies that everyone has heard of.
Tags help you a little bit to get a foot in the door maybe, but not much more.
What helps you far more are good habits and skills you develop early in your life. You will get a lot more return on investment from each habit and skill you carefully cultivate.
Instead of going on a quest to acquire more tags and degrees, you should be on a quest to acquire as many skills and as many good habits as you can develop.
When you have such skills and habits, tags, recognition, and success follows quite easily.
So what skills and habits support your career as a lawyer and would be better to develop them early in your life?
Also, note that developing these habits we are going to talk about will serve you better than getting through to any top law school or NLU.
Learn to ask the right questions
Asking the right questions is very important in the legal profession. It is at the heart of all analysis and investigation. Questioning common assumptions will give you many insights and lead you down roads that others do not even consider.
Much of the time you may be letting others frame the questions, and this usually influences much of what you think. To be an independent thinker, you must learn to ask your own questions and challenge authorities that do not want you to ask certain questions.
It is by asking questions that we can arrive at a deeper truth, which is intrinsic to being an impactful lawyer.
Asking the right questions will:
- Enable you to learn faster.
- Help you to find secrets that are hidden from others.
- Strengthen your arguments.
- You will be less likely to end up doing things that you do not want to do and you will course correct faster than others.
- You will develop better understanding of problems and you will be able to solve them faster.
- You can understand problems better if you can ask the right questions, and then you can articulate those problems better which is step one of problem-solving.
- You are likely to come up with better solutions when you question existing solutions.
- You will be a better communicator and be effective in public debates.
To be effective in research and study, decision-making and problem-solving, being able to identify the right questions is often as important as finding the right answers. A lot of times you may be under a misconception that you are framing the questions while they may be supplied by deep-rooted bias, herd mentality and cultural influences.
If you ask bad questions, you cannot get the answers that will help you to make things better.
It is not only critical to being a good lawyer. It is also critical to all leadership, organization development, wealth building and even creating great art.
Learn to write clearly and effectively
Learning is a way of thinking. Writing will force you to clarify your own thoughts. A lot of things that are clear and make complete sense in your head, may not make any sense when you write it down.
The ability to write and disseminate information changed the history of the human race. Today, we live in a knowledge age when we can come up with an idea and share it with millions of people. Each of us can build our own communities, develop our own tribe, and amplify messages that are important to us.
The opportunity is truly unprecedented.
As a lawyer, you will be effective in finding as well as serving clients if your written communication is powerful. You can use your writing to communicate, persuade, influence, lobby, attack, educate, challenge, or disseminate ideas. It is important not only in the course of cases or negotiation over contracts, but also in public life.
Some benefits of developing a great writing skill and habit of writing regularly:
- You can only know many people personally. But when you write regularly, you can cultivate a huge audience. People who you do not know personally, but they know you. And many of them will be open to helping you in succeeding with your objectives, whatever those may be.
- You grow your professional network faster and create deeper relationships with people you already know.
- People will respect you for your quality of writing and contribution.
- It is easier to find clients and jobs if you are a prolific writer.
- You could be highly visible and attract a large following in social media if you start writing high-quality content there.
- You will develop a superior ability to process, structure and present information.
Develop a habit of non-stop learning
Learning new skills should be a habit you cultivate, not a one-off thing. Are you interested in learning new skills of diverse nature all the time?
Every new skill you learn will make your brain smarter in new ways. Even learning to dance is useful, and so is learning the piano or a new language.
Of course, there are more relevant skills like the ones mentioned here. But it is far more important that you become a learning machine, always trying to learn new skills.
For instance, skills like email marketing, web development, SEO, content marketing and a few other such skills that developed over the years have helped me to build LawSikho into a formidable legal education company, where we today employ more lawyers than many mid-size law firms.
And our growth totally depends even today on how fast we can learn new and relevant skills so that we can keep growing.
I really admire my friend and cofounder Abhyuday who has a very strong learning habit. He is always reading new books, joining new courses and learning from new coaches skills that may or may not be immediately relevant. And this has enabled him to grow faster than a whole lot of people I know.
You may not start as the smartest kid in the block. But if you keep learning new skills as a matter of habit, if you become a learning machine, you would probably end up being one of the best in the world in what you do. That is how amazing the habit of learning is.
The legal profession requires you to develop a whole lot of disparate skills. It is not only legal skills that you will need. You will probably need a whole lot of business, social and even political skills as you grow as a lawyer.
A habit of constant learning is probably the biggest gift you can give to your future self.
Is there something that you have been thinking of learning for a long time? Do not delay, get started.
Learn public speaking and develop a habit around it
Public speaking is one of the most important tools of a lawyer. If you learn to speak coherently, persuasively, in a manner that creates impact on people, you will have a huge advantage in your career and life.
However, public speaking only helps and improves when you practice it a lot. Even if you speak fairly well, that is not a reason to stop. You need to practice it regularly. You can start a YouTube channel where you can share the videos of you talking about important issues. You can interview other people through webinars. You can participate in debating or MUN competitions regularly. You can join the Toastmasters club.
Whatever it is, regular practice and correction is key to improving your public speaking.
Great public speaking will ensure that you have a great time in law school, you will be celebrated for your great speaking skills, find it easier to succeed as a litigator, grow faster in a law firm because you will probably make a better negotiator and you will be able to communicate better with senior lawyers and clients and even develop a powerful public profile.
Here is how regular public speaking can help you:
- Being better at public speaking means you’re going to be recognized for your good work far more easily than if you are not good at it;
- Public speaking will help you in your career advancement, as you climb up further in your career, effective public speaking can mean more clients, more respect from peers, faster promotions and massive career growth;
- Public speaking will help you show that you have a personality other than your resume to future and potential employers, it is a great skill to develop social and professional contacts; and
- Public speaking also helps you in the application of logical principles, helps analyze various evidences, claims, issues and beliefs.
Learn to make videos
Everyone has seen the power of short videos with the exponential growth of TikTok. YouTube is said to be one of the most lucrative platforms for content creators. What is the explosive growth of video?
Videos are the most versatile and powerful communication medium today. If you can master video making, you will succeed at public communication. You will be able to build an audience, influence a large number of people, and support the organizations and the causes you stand behind in a very powerful way.
The one most essential and futuristic skill that you can develop today is the ability to make your point effectively and concisely in a video. It could be a video of you speaking, or a video based on a clip, explaining a point using some simple animations that plenty of tools enable us to easily deliver today.
As the legal profession is increasingly moving towards virtual hearing and virtual negotiations, your video skills have become even more important. Speaking on videos is now as important as writing legal articles.
Institutional arbitration rules are asking for counsels to make videos of their arguments and send them across. This is how the future of dispute resolution will look like.
To be an effective communicator in the decade that just started, you need to learn how to make, record, edit, and disseminate videos. Why not develop a following on YouTube by making sharp, concise videos on an area that interests you?
YouTube remains an untapped market for lawyers, where you can find potential leads who can become clients or even other fellow YouTubers who would need help in their legal matters. After all, YouTube is the second-largest search engine in the world.
Develop a reading habit
Reading is one of the most effective ways to understand how the world works. Warren Buffet, one of the richest men in the world suggests that you should read 500 pages every day, that is how your knowledge increases. It builds up just like compound interest does.
You should take that advice very seriously.
There are many people who just read fiction. However, reading non-fiction is more likely to develop the kind of knowledge base you need to succeed beyond normal imaginations in the times that we live in.
There are some law students who read only law books. This is not necessary. It is a great idea to read on a diverse range of topics and develop genuine interest and curiosity on many different subjects. This will help you to become a better advocate.
This is hard to develop when you are already looking for a job. But you will probably see that a whole lot of top lawyers are very well-read people. This is a habit that is best developed when you are still in school, or at least while you are in law school, because once you are already in the job, you will find yourself having far less time to dedicate to reading.
Here are some amazing benefits of developing a strong reading habit:
- Reading about new ideas can spark your brain activity in a way that you even beat depression or fatigue. Reading amazing books is great for your mental health.
- Reading helps in stress reduction. A well written novel can help you distract you and keep you in the present, which helps in reducing stress.
- Reading helps in vocabulary expansion.
- Being articulate and well spoken is a must in our profession, reading can help you be well-spoken, well-prepared and knowledgeable on endless topics.
- It does help in memory improvement, it forges new synapses and helps you in strengthening existing memories.
- Reading gives you stronger analytical thinking skills. It helps you have more focus and concentration.
Learn how to network
Networking will require you to develop social skills. It starts from the understanding that you need to be a giver first, and you are never too small or too young to create value for others.
You can network with people your age. You can network with older people, find mentors who can guide you, learn how to cold approach people and create value for them.
If you develop social anxiety or aversion to other people when you are young, it can be very hard to overcome that when you are older.
Your success in life depends a great deal on your relationships. Who are the people who support you? Who has got your back? Who are the people who have a very good impression of you and they will remember your name if they come across it?
This is something you can start no matter how young you are.
The only question you must ask yourself every time you come across someone is: how can I help this person best? Is there any way in which I can generate some value for him?
If you can develop the ability to think this all the time, you will soon become a very successful networker.
Learning to network at an early stage in your career can open unimaginable opportunities for you.
But be careful, networking is not exchanging visiting cards at conferences. Real networking requires you to cultivate meaningful, deep, generous relationships.
Generosity and compassion is the key to being a successful networker.
What skills are you already developing?
Out of all these skills we just mentioned, are you developing any? Where do you stand?
In our LawSikho courses, we help our students to work on each of these skills.
Here are the courses in which you can enroll:
- If you are interested in corporate governance, you should check out the diploma in Companies Act, Corporate Governance and SEBI Regulations;
- If you want to get that in-house counsel job, go check out the diploma in Business Laws for In-House Counsels;
- If Industrial and Labour Laws interest you, go take a look at that diploma course;
- The Intellectual Property, Media and Entertainment Laws will be booming in the coming times, if you’re inclined towards that career, check out that diploma course;
- If you’re sure that your niche lies in M&A, Institutional Finance and Investment Laws (PE & VC transactions), go check out that course;
- The Cyber Law, Fintech Regulations and Technology Contracts is in dire need of good young talent if that is what ticks for you, go check out that course; and
- Every young lawyer should check out our diploma course in Advanced Contract Drafting, Negotiation and Dispute Resolution.
Have you heard about our webinars?
LawSikho offers amazing webinars that you can attend and learn from, with no charges, every day. Now we are even giving certificates to those who attend the full webinar. Check out some of our past webinars here: https://www.youtube.com/c/LawSikho/
While you can see past recordings of webinars on our YouTube channel, to participate in one personally is quite a different experience, as you can ask questions and interact with such amazing speakers and even other attendees.
Check out our new introductory courses
LawSikho can train you to draft contracts that are very essential to land a corporate job or be a better corporate lawyer. We have courses on legal writing, media law and practice, corporate law practice. We also have this course on decoding accounts and financial statements which is very relevant for any lawyer or law student.
A young law student can even earn a decent amount of money by drafting good contracts. This is a trend that our team noticed that startups do not have quality legal assistance when it comes to contracts and other basic compliance work. We have been regularly helping our students to find such paid internships and opportunities.
However, a lot of you regularly complain that you do not have the resources to take up a course that costs INR 30,000 and takes up a year of your time. Surely, it may not be possible for everyone to do this right off the bat.
Hence, we are now offering a course that is just a month-long, with all the usual features but priced at just a minuscule INR 3000. It is an introductory practical contract drafting course that you can use to get your initial skills, using which you can solve some of your financial problems. However, this is for law students only. If you are not a law student, we will not accept you in the course.
The first batch enrollment closes very soon.
If you want the full-fledged 1-year contract drafting course, check it out here.
LawSikho has created a telegram group for exchanging legal knowledge, referrals and various opportunities. You can click on this link and join: