The 5 Personal Qualities Needed to Be an Effective Lawyer
by David Dorion
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Summary: What separates attorneys from the rest of the public as far as their work character is concerned?
As glamorous as the practice of law is, the practice of law stull requires dedication and hard work.
One needs certain qualities to be the top of their profession, and to not have these qualities can adversely affect an attorney’s career.
Keep reading to find out what those qualities are.
There are virtually no professions similar to a lawyer. The occupation of lawyer can shape and influence our day-to-day lives more than any other occupation on the planet. This includes doctors, philosophers, religious leaders, teachers, and yes, to a degree, our own parents.
While medicine, the social values of philosophy and religion, the tutelage provided by teachers and the guidance issued by parents have a great effect in our lives, it’s the law that seems to really count toward our existence as positive contributors to society.
In this way, it can be at least summarily entertained that lawyers touch on at least three of the previously mentioned professions; those being teachers, religious leaders (if you think in the realm of law as a religion – which to an extent it is), and philosophers.
In short, lawyers:
Teach us to respect and honor the law, as well as uphold the law.
Teach us the importance of law, and how it is the fabric that holds our society together.
Teach us the societal implications if we thwart or break the law.
For the most part, everyone knows what a law or rule is. We probably first learned of law’s existence (and eventually its importance) when we were children in school, if not earlier by our parents. The problem is not enough kids are exposed to this type of learning, and if they are, they forget the lessons once they grow older.
This is where attorneys can be of benefit, and not just to us personally, but to society as a whole.
Personal Qualities needed to be a Lawyer
According to the online publication, Chron, there are four main qualities an individual needs to be an effective attorney.
As the publication states, lawyers handle a variety of legal tasks for their clients that go far beyond the singularity of practicing law. Depending upon the type of the expertise garnered from their practice area, lawyers can be involved in a client’s estate, their personal finance, as well as family oriented legalities. This, in turn, makes the attorney more diverse than the one-trick-pony many conjure up when thinking about lawyers.
Attorneys might also represent individuals accused of a crime, or a corporation facing a civil lawsuit. They can prepare wills for recently married couples. Some lawyers choose to specialize in a particular area, such as tax law or bankruptcy. Either way, more and more successful lawyers possess skills that take them far beyond the court room or the legal brief, and the financial rewards for attorneys of this caliber with the right personal qualities can be substantial.
But even with their legally related tasks brought to life, one might ask (one, being a prospective lawyer who either considers or is considering law school, then a legal career) what are the basics that make up a good lawyer? What does one need personality wise, or ethically to execute their craft?
Keep reading to find out the five most essential characteristics an attorney needs to be effective in their profession.
Lawyers need good communication skills in order to be effective in the courtroom and make convincing arguments to judges and juries. They must have good written communication skills because they might have to write a variety of documents, including legal case studies. They must also be good listeners, able to follow complex testimony or to understand and analyze what clients tell them.
Law school, for the most part, roots out those who have ineffective communication skills. This is because attorneys have to be able to vocalize or at least express with language, their viewpoint regarding a law.
Communication skills are also vital in regard to an attorney’s clientele. That lawyer will have to be effective and persuasive as they explain potential legal outcomes to their clients. In fact, as some aspects of law remain quite complex to the average person without legal training, it is very important that a lawyer have the communicative ability to relay that complexity in simple terms to their clients, which, of course, is a talent in itself.
The ability to think critically is important for lawyers. They must be able to follow a chain of logic to identify potential trouble areas in their own arguments, and to spot weaknesses in the reasoning presented by their opposition or even their own clients. Lawyers must often exercise their judgment in deciding the best course of action to pursue.
It’s for this reason that many attorneys are experts in deducing laws, briefs, complaints and judgments. The language of law is often complex and difficult to understand. Whether or not one believes the legalese was purposely manufactured to make it less accessible to the Average Joe, is neither here nor there; the fact that a lawyer can break that language down into clear cognitive points is of tremendous value and importance to many beyond the legal profession.
Having sound judgment and from that, the ability to break down a terminology, definition or final decision within the legal world, is key to what makes an attorney.
Sound judgment within an attorney also means he or she will not be subjected or the victim of snap decisions or conclusions that have not been carefully considered, particularly when it comes to the best interests of their clientele.
Lawyers should be able to persuade clients to follow their advice or convince the opposition to negotiate a resolution. This requires the ability to read people and figure out the best approach to make their point. When presenting a case, lawyers must be able to read how jurors react to statements and testimony, and they need to read witnesses well enough to know whether the individual’s testimony is honest and unbiased.
In short, to be a lawyer is to be intuitive. It is as if lawyers have a sixth sense that enables them to be extra sensitive to a client’s needs.
Of course, a bit of showmanship is involved. Not unlike a variety show host, an attorney has to be part actor, part advocate (for the client at least) and pragmatist in order to convincingly win a case.
To be all of this in one setting, an attorney has to have people skills. He or she needs to be able to pick up on the courtroom’s mood, gullibility, and/or sharpness toward the subject at hand. And the only way to do that is to have exceptional interpersonal skills and the ability to openly communicate with virtually anyone.
Lawyers must absorb a great deal of information, both during law school and when preparing a case, then be able to organize and analyze the information in a logical manner. If more than one law or precedent applies to a situation, lawyers must evaluate which argument best advances their cause.
Analytical skills are what enable an attorney to break down aspects of a case in such a way that the case can be angled to the lawyer’s client’s favor.
While analytical skills are to a degree taught in law school, or at least honed, they are by far not a skill commonly found in just anybody. Individuals such as mathematicians, engineers and scientists are expert in the use of analytical skills. Writers as well use analytical skills to advance their characters and the themes of their stories.
Sure, a lawyer may not have much use for mathematics or science (though you never know depending upon the client and their case), however writing is very much a large portion of their profession, and to deduct a principle, theory or incident weighs heavily into conducting a convincing argument – just in the same way a writer convinces a reader about the veracity of a character and plot.
A Degree of Perseverance
The mere act of becoming a lawyer requires a great deal of commitment. The typical path is a bachelor’s degree, followed by law school, which lasts three years. The lawyer must then pass the state bar exam before being allowed to practice law. Once they pass the bar and begins accepting cases, a lawyer often has to spend many hours preparing their case. They will spend a lot of time conducting research, preparing documents and interviewing witnesses. Lawyers need a willingness to invest the time needed to achieve a successful conclusion to the case.
While attorneys are strong individuals, their true abilities lie in their adaptability between clients and cases. With each case, they can understand the client’s needs and desires, and to that interest, acclimate to what is needed in order for them and their client to win the case at hand.
The one aspect lawyers need to be successful not just for themselves, but for their clients, is an ability to constantly learn and communicate. To achieve this, an attorney should stay in close proximity with their clientele. Occasional phone calls, or a client lunch or dinner are not out of the ordinary for the attorney who truly takes an interest in their clients’ evolution.
If anything, this shows the ever-present development of the attorney themselves, and their nature – which is not necessarily learned in law school, or regarded as a trait germane to their practice, but a quality that is instead learned from being an asset to individuals who need an attorney for not just legal needs, but real life needs as well.
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