8 Lawyer Skills That Drive Success
By Trent Fowler
It’s fair to say that lawyers are generally perceived to be “skilled” professionals. In courtroom dramas, lawyers are depicted as being articulate, intelligent, and competent – and we’re sure as (totally unbiased) legal professionals yourself, you’ll agree!
But what do these competencies actually consist of? What specific skills do you need to be a lawyer, other than a superlative knowledge of jurisprudence?
We’ll take a look at the top eight lawyer skills you need in order to run a successful legal practice.
What are Lawyer Skills?
Being a lawyer is an involved job. You have to understand the law, of course, but you also need to be able to express yourself well, work as part of a team (whether you’re leading or just participating), and so on. Communication has always been a hallmark of the legal profession, of course; but other skills, like those related to technology and marketing, have also become crucial in recent decades.
8 Top Skills for Lawyers
In the sections that follow, we break down the top eight skills that are crucial for the modern lawyer.We won’t spend any time on legal skills as such, i.e. how to file a brief or how the defense and the prosecution comport themselves during a criminal trial. Instead, we’ll round out several soft skills you need to be a lawyer—that you likely didn’t learn about in law school.
First, lawyers must be able to communicate well. Being able to express long chains of complicated reasoning, both when speaking and when writing, is among the most basic attorney skills.
When you communicate with clients, you need to be able to put yourself in their shoes, and elicit the information that best represents them—without being prying or too aggressive.
Legal software is a platform that makes client communication easier. For example, MyCase’s client portal allows you to share important dates and case reminders with clients, send invoices, and organize all case information. In addition, MyCase’s built-in text messaging makes it easy to maintain contact with all your clients.
2. Attention to Detail
There’s no way around the fact that attention to detail is a foundational legal skill. Billion-dollar lawsuits can be won or lost based on some minute technicality and the ability to track such nuances is a huge advantage.
There are lots of ways you can facilitate being more detail-oriented. One is making sure that the materials you work with are organized in a way that makes sense. Legal software like MyCase offers a flexible and powerful way to organize information related to your work and reduce the likelihood that a crucial detail will slip through unnoticed.
3. Time Management
Similarly, the ability to effectively manage your schedule is essential. The chances are good that you’ll have several cases you’re managing simultaneously, in addition to office meetings, emails, and all other obligations.
MyCase makes time tracking a breeze, with a bevy of features that allow you to capture every billable minute, including time spent on calls and emails.
Most lawyers today work as part of a team. According to the American Bar Association, fewer than 1% of law school graduates start a solo practice, which means that the chances are extremely good that you’ll end up with colleagues.
There are advantages and disadvantages to being part of a team. Working with a team of lawyers can make it easier to manage a case. However, having teammates means you’ll need to understand the vagaries of the personalities you’re dealing with, learn basic conflict resolution, etc.
Working on a team becomes much easier when you have the tools you need to coordinate effectively. MyCase’s document management functionality, for example, makes it simple for members of your team to share and track information related to cases they’re jointly working on, while its native calendaring support will allow the team to find time to meet and spot any approaching deadlines.
5. Analytical Skills
Analytical legal skills are a core competency for successful lawyers. Legal technology can help you understand how each case is performing, how much time you or your legal team are spending on cases on average, where the greatest inefficiencies are, and what kinds of clients are the best fit for your skills. For instance, MyCase legal analytics insights can help improve your overall operations to maximize productivity and revenue.
6. Technology Skills
There’s no escaping the fact that technology is playing an increasingly important role in almost every profession, and law is no different. From case management to time tracking to data analytics, technology is helping lawyers get more done in less time.
The ability to use legal technology is, therefore, something that can set you apart from other lawyers. Perhaps you learn to use a tool like MyCase for interacting with your clients, or you may go further and dive into advanced technologies like generative AI for your research. Whatever path you choose, it’s worth understanding the way technology is being used in the law.
7. Marketing for Lawyers
Marketing is a legal skill that should go under “technology”, since so much of it is done through blogs and social media.
While many lawyers continue to rely on word of mouth for lead generation, more lawyers are finding it worth their time to establish other marketing channels. Writing a blog, for example, can increase monthly leads by nearly 90%, and with billions of people using some form of social media, putting out video content on platforms like TikTok or YouTube can also be a winning strategy.
8. Ethical Judgement
Finally, ethics is one of the key (and crucial) skills for lawyers. The law ultimately rests on a philosophical view of justice—it’s wrong to hurt other people or defraud them, and jurisprudence has emerged as a way of punishing those who break these rules while making their victims whole.
Trust account management also plays a crucial role in ethics and compliance. With the MyCase accounting feature your firm can prevent commingling or fund misue with built-in three-way reconciliation, as well as the ability to properly operating account and trust account cash flow.
How can Using Legal Tech Help You Grow Your Legal Skills?
Throughout this piece, we’ve talked about the major skills required for lawyers. We’ve also discussed some of the various ways in which legal tech can help bolster and augment these skills.Practice management software like MyCase, for example, can help facilitate your client communication by making it easy to manage information. Practice management software also allows you to perform the sorts of legal analytics that will help streamline your operation, focus on high-ROI clients, and eliminate sources of friction and waste.
The world is becoming increasingly technology-based, and forward-thinking lawyers are embracing these trends in an effort to stay ahead and better serve their client base.
Being a lawyer draws on many competencies, including a knowledge of case law, precedent, legal proceedings, and many other domains.
Today’s attorneys need to understand technology, legal analytics, teamwork, marketing, and time management in order to function at their best.
All of this becomes much easier with the right legal software. You can sign up for a 10-day free trial or schedule a MyCase demo today to learn more about our low-cost monthly and yearly subscriptions, with no commitment or credit card needed.