Nobody wants to be bad at their job, especially as a lawyer, with peoples’ futures in your hands. So, what are the 10 commandments to follow as a lawyer?
Some jobs actually require you to be good, if not great, to even be considered for the position. Being a lawyer is one of those jobs, especially if you don’t want your firm to be the subject of an SRA investigation.
This necessity to be a good lawyer makes sense, as it’s a job where you hold the outcome of people’s lives in your hands. Ultimately, making mistakes could do some serious damage.
In this post, we’re going to help you become a good lawyer by laying out our 10 commandments for being one. Take a look…
Thou Shalt Have Good…
1. Communication Skills
If you’re going to be a good lawyer, you have to be able to communicate an argument effectively, both in writing and verbally. You can’t walk into a courtroom and convince a jury or judge of your argument if you can’t get your point across to them.
These speaking skills come with time, so it’s important to practice whilst you’re still in law school through mooting and public speaking. As for writing, good lawyers need to be able to write clearly, persuasively and concisely across a variety of legal documents.
Of course, communication doesn’t just go one way. Lawyers also need to be able to listen and take effective notes from their clients in order to construct their arguments in the first place.
2. People Skills
Knowing your area of law back to front is one thing – that makes you an encyclopaedia – but to be a lawyer you have to be able to work with people. Good lawyers are personable, persuasive and able to read what their clients want.
Good lawyers also need to be able to read the judge and jury to know when there’s a good chance of winning a case and when they should settle and get out with the best deal possible for their client.
This is getting very biblical now, but we’re not talking about that kind of judgement. The type of judgement a good lawyer needs is the ability to draw reasonable, logical conclusions or assumptions from the information given to them, no matter how limited.
A critical analysis of these judgements then needs to be applied to discover where the weaknesses lie so you can prepare to defend against them. Similarly, you need to be able to spot weaknesses in your opposition’s arguments, so judgement is important.
4. Analytical Skills
In order to understand a case, you need to absorb vast amounts of information and condense it into a manageable and logical summary. Analysing this information could lead you down many paths, and it’s up to the lawyer to decide which route to take.
This means a good lawyer has to be able to evaluate as well as analyse information, in order to resolve a case the way they, and their client, want it resolved.
5. Research Skills
Analysing data is one thing, but to be a good lawyer you need to know where to find that information in the first place.
As with a lot of these other skills, over time you’ll grow from a lawyer who uses the basic information needed to progress a case, to knowing exactly where to look to get the information you need to win one.
Sometimes cases don’t go the way you expect them to, but giving up on them is not an option if you want to be a good lawyer. It’d be easy to throw in the towel and settle for an okay deal with the opposition, but that would be admitting defeat.
If you truly want the best outcome for your client, and to be the best lawyer you can be, you should always look for new angles and do everything in your power to win the case.
Researching and analysing information is incredibly important, but sometimes you can’t get what need and you have be creative. The most obvious route to victory isn’t always the best, so having the ability to look at things from obscure angles is a real asset.
8. Commercial Awareness
At the end of the day, a law firm is a business like any other. They have the extra pressure of obtaining justice for their clients, but winning cases will ultimately get them more business. The more business the firm gets, the more money they make and the more prestigious they become.
Good lawyers need to be able to assess which cases are profitable and which aren’t. On top of that they need to keep on top of current developments in local, national and world business, especially when it pertains to their firm and their clients.
For example, the COVID-19 pandemic convinced lots of people to move house, as did the Stamp Duty Land Tax holiday in the UK. Good lawyers will have noticed this opportunity and improve their marketing to get more clients through their doors.
Lawyers often have to collaborate with colleagues and partners in their firm, as well as work well with their clients. There are also more peripheral relationships with judges, magistrates, and other members of the judiciary.
So, in order to be a good lawyer you need to have good teamwork skills, otherwise you’ll end up living the life of a lone wolf with no-one around to help you succeed.
If you look at the list of commandments so far, there are a lot of tasks a lawyer has to juggle at once, and not being able to organise them all could be your downfall.
Good lawyers need to be able to prioritise and remain focused on the task at hand without letting the mountain of other tasks that need to be done get on top of them. The first step to organising a case is to organise your documents and move on from there.
Will You Become a Good Lawyer if You Follow These Commandments?
In this post, we’ve managed to cover the 10 most important things you need to have to be a good lawyer.
Most of these attributes will come in time, as long as you’re actively aware of them and trying to improve. Also, they’re unobtainable in their purest form, and striving to embody them is what actually makes you a good lawyer.