Essential Lawyer Skills (With Definition And Examples)
By Indeed Editorial Team
Published 14 July 2022
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
Lawyers are legal professionals who represent individuals and organisations to preserve their interests in a court of law. They may work within a specific branch of law, or practice as a general counsel for their clients. If you are interested in this role, you may benefit from learning more about the skills these professionals typically possess and use on a routine basis. In this article, we examine the lawyer skills, list examples of skills and discuss how to improve and highlight them.
What Are Lawyer Skills?
Lawyer skills assist professionals in the legal domain with clear fact presentation, logical reasoning and research, and enable them to present strong arguments in front of a judicial body. Lawyers typically possess a thorough knowledge of how a judicial system functions and understand how their practice can influence it. They draft legal documents and manage and extract key insights from large volumes of audio, visual and textual data as part of their research process. They use their communication skills and critical thinking capabilities to improve their clients' chances of obtaining favourable outcomes in a case.
6 Examples Of Skills For Lawyers
A lawyer's skills typically include a mix of hard and soft skills, that enable them to perform successfully in a fast-paced and dynamic work environment. These are some common examples of skills that lawyers may benefit from developing:
1. Research skills
Lawyers may engage in case enquiries involving people from different socio-economic backgrounds and complicated evidence that requires confirmation of facts. Comprehensive research can often clarify doubts regarding miscommunication, unclear facts and false claims. In this role, you may spend a significant amount of your time identifying and examining relevant witness statements, news articles, case studies, podcasts, reviews or even social media posts to resolve a doubt.
2. Attention to detail
Lawyers usually have access to witness statements and legal documentation, and the attention they pay to details in their work can be critical for resolving case-related discrepancies. Lawyers typically strive to create legal documentation that is devoid of spelling errors, factual discrepancies, grammatical flaws and numerical mistakes. Good attention to detail can help these professionals speed up proofreading and editing processes.
3. Interrogation skills
Lawyers may plan or conduct interrogations on a routine basis, and they benefit from becoming familiar with common interrogation processes and their possible outcomes. Typically, a lawyer receives a briefing either from a client or from concerned law enforcement officials, following which they may conduct their own research and prepare relevant questions to guide interviews. As part of investigations, lawyers may also interact with witnesses who are unwilling to cooperate with them. In such cases, good interrogation skills can help lawyers frame effective queries for gathering useful information.
4. Organisation skills
Lawyers may work on multiple cases at a time, and good organisation skills enable them to maintain, arrange and manage their workspaces and case materials in a systematic fashion. These professionals may work with large volumes of information and evidence, typically in the form of case studies, newspaper clippings, camera footage, audio recordings and witness statements. Identifying and utilising key evidence material involves noting page numbers, marking statements and recording and storing video and audio snippets.
5. Presentation skills
A lawyer's presentation skills become useful in court while they discuss cases with judges and other involved parties. Apart from being persuasive, presentation skills enable lawyers to carefully and systematically reveal crucial details of a case in an easy-to-understand manner. Since lawyers typically process a large volume of information in relation to a case, they may also benefit from developing the capacity to overlook peripheral information and isolate the most relevant details of a case. This often allows them to present a clear and convincing argument.
6. Time-management skills
Lawyers typically charge their clients on an hourly basis for consultations and per day for court appearances. They may manage their finances by regulating the size of their client base, monthly work hours and the time taken to consult or represent each client in court. In this line of work, while working with multiple clients, effective time-management skills become necessary for maintaining work-life balance and keeping track of deadlines.
How To Improve Your Skills As A Lawyer?
As a lawyer, you may consider taking these steps to improve your professional competency and expand your lawyer skills set:
1. Practice mock case scenarios
Practicing mock case scenarios with a team of professionals prepares you for real-time interactions in court with judges, opposing attorneys and case attendees. Practicing the presentation of facts and case details repeatedly can also contribute to increased confidence in an actual court setting as it boosts memory and recall. While practicing, you can also gather feedback from your peers to identify areas in which you can improve your presentation and delivery. Try out different startegies for questioning witnesses and presenting information, to identify which ones may work in your favour in a court setting.
2. Learn to work under pressure
A lawyer's work environment can be fast-paced and stress-inducing at times, especially around crucial deadlines and court hearings. They may be required to manage stress to engage well with difficult witnesses and perform more in-depth research. Effective stress management may considerably reduce case turnaround times and help you increase income by accommodating more projects. For example, altering your style of work to assign a time slot for each task may help you cope with busy workdays. This helps maintain focus on one task at a time rather than working in a disorderly manner.
3. Learn conflict resolution
Lawyers are not only responsible for settling a case in court, but also off it. Many cases can get resolved outside the court when lawyers are able to safeguard the interests of all involved parties. In this line of work, you may often work as a mediator between several parties, to help them understand the particulars of legal situations and achieve favourable outcomes for all parties involved.
4. Stay observant
Lawyers can learn about the best legal strategies and courtroom practices by observing and analysing other practitioners in their field. Try to notice how experienced professionals in your domain present themselves in court, interact with witnesses and present cases to a judge. Observing how other lawyers cross-question witnesses can help you identify strategies suitable for your own work. Outside the court-room lawyers benefit from staying updated on important developments in their professional field, at all times.
Highlighting Lawyer Skills
Follow these pointers for effectively highlighting your abilities while applying for a job in a legal firm:
On a resume
A bulleted skills list on your resume can help you emphasise your most important and relevant skills pertaining to the role of a lawyer. Grouping skills in a bulleted list makes it easier to find and read, and also provides an overview of how your skills relate to your work history and the job you are applying for. Identify relevant keywords in the job posting and incorporate them in your resume, if you feel they apply to you.
On a cover letter
A cover letter is a summary of your resume and usually includes a list of your primary abilities as an indication of what you can offer to an employer. Highlight only your most relevant abilities, emphasising how they can help an enterprise or an employer. For example, a lawyer's cover letter may indicate that they possess 'high comprehension and extensive knowledge of civil law'.
During an interview
An interview is an excellent opportunity for qualified candidates to highlight their communication and presentation skills. Interviewers may ask a mix of general, experience based and in-depth interview questions to comprehensively evaluate your skill and experience level in your domain. Explain how you acquired your skills, how you have used them in previous roles and how your engagement can help an employer or client.
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