Important Soft Skills for Lawyers
Industries and businesses across the globe are responding to a more competitive marketplace, global economy, and technological automation of the workforce. This leaves lawyers with an
important question to consider: what are the new skills that future lawyers will need in order to stay competitive?
Law school will always be there to serve as the starting point of learning the law, but after the law student passes the bar and becomes a lawyer, a new set of skills is required to successfully
develop a practice. Here are some key skills that are not taught or tested that will be important to a lawyer’s long term success:
Collaborating and Influencing Broad Networks
Technological advancements have made remote working possible, and today, a lawyer can work on a legal matter arising from Georgia just as effectively from Seattle as from Atlanta. Firms are collaborating across different offices and clients across the planet. This dynamic level of collaboration transcends geographical boundaries— as wonderful as that is, it comes with its own set of challenges.
That is why it will be important for new attorneys to be “fluent” in global online collaboration, and become familiar with using the new technological and digital tools to support the new global
interactions. Working across different offices and nations means becoming familiar with multiple cultures, and being able to influence diverse teams and mobilizing alliances of networks to
achieve a common goal.
Business is becoming volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. A lawyer must adapt accordingly.
Traditionally, legal training prepares new lawyers for the routine of a practice. CLE’s areorganized so that lawyers continue to learn—but are they merely reinforcing old lessons and habits? The new generation of lawyers will need to push themselves to perpetually relearn, and to do so quickly because of the agile and unpredictable consequences of disruption across major industries. A savvy lawyer can assess which skills to learn, and which are no longer required. Those who become familiar with new digital and online platforms with have a distinct advantage over others.
Innovate or Perish
Law school does not train law students on the business of law. Traditionally, innovation and entrepreneurship is something law students develop in spite of or in addition to law school. New lawyers must learn to lead, take initiative, and solve new challenges. In addition to learning the black letter law, it is important to develop an eye for new opportunities, along with ideas and
strategies for improvement.
Old School Skills
In addition to the new soft-skill set, the new generation of lawyers still must master the traditional skill-set:
Not just being able to recite and explain the black letter law, but also to critically analyze and question problems, discover its causes, and creating solutions. This goes beyond the individual lawyer, as it is also important for entire teams to learn to critically think as a whole to solve specific problems.
This is more than just language arts and grammar—effective communication is an extension of clear thinking. Can you present your argument persuasively? Clearly summarize what you are trying to say? Promote your services or firm?