Lawyer Core Skills and Values:
Inquisitive- A good lawyer will possess an inquisitive nature. Curiosity drives a person to probe and ask revealing questions. The inquisitive attorney will peel back the layers of a case, going deeper, asking for more information.
This skill is important because it’s often the small, unnoticed details that can make or break a case. A good lawyer asks questions because they aren’t satisfied with accepting surface information. They know there may be more facts underneath the evidence presented. Their inquisitive nature will push them to uncover that information.
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Problem Solving Abilities– Being a problem solver is one of the root skills of any attorney. People hire lawyers because they either have a problem, or are trying to avoid one. Possessing excellent problem solving skills allows the lawyer to find solutions even when none are immediately apparent.
Not all problems are the same. Problem solving goes beyond good ideas that have worked in the past; it is a skill that allows an attorney to sometimes think creatively, finding solutions that are tailored to meet a client’s particular needs.
Symptomatic Reading– Attorneys will have to read a great deal of material when they take on a client. It may be court documents, witness testimony, contracts, case law, or a myriad of other text. It is easy for anyone to skim over the information and take it at face value. Unfortunately this can prove detrimental to a client.
It takes time to read critically with a deal of skepticism. It is this skill that allows the attorney to read case material symptomatically (critically). It safeguards the client from the repercussions from text that may have been written with things slanted with bias, implied statements, or hidden agendas.
Writing Skills– Having the ability to write well lays a solid foundation for all the documents a lawyer must write such as arguments, contracts, and legal letters.
Written communication is a primary way that information is distributed and recorded.
Clear, concise writing removes ambiguity, making intentions known. The legal system requires most communication to be in writing and has very strict guidelines for accuracy. If an attorney is unable to communicate well in writing, it may result in misunderstandings at the least, and damage to the client at the worst.
Conversation/ Articulation Abilities– Just as writing skills are important, so too are verbal skills. An attorney will find it necessary to shift gears in their verbal communication style. One day they may need to speak in an authoritative manner with persuasive speech during an important trial. The next day a lawyer may need to meet with a grieving widow requiring sympathetic conversation in reassuring tones. Conversation skills are more than just the ability to say the right words. The words also need to be said in the right manner.
General Investigation/Research Skills– Attorneys have to spend hours investigating and researching information for clients. Attorneys must be able to know how to perform research with speed and accuracy, and confidence in the authority of the source.
If they don’t know where to look for the right kind of information, their research may be flawed and inaccurate. If an attorney can’t investigate quickly, they may get bogged down and unnecessarily waste a lot of time.
They also must be able to investigate and interview witnesses or other principals in a case. Research may require the ability to get past gatekeepers and gaining access to important sources of information.
Organization / Management Skills- The legal system in the United States has grown more complex in the last century. A commercial land purchase, for instance that at one time may have been completed on a handshake, now may contain hundreds of pages of documents distributed over time; each one representing stages in the purchase process. Keeping track of all the paperwork demands good organizational skills.
The attorney will also need to possess good time management skills. They will need to stay aware of deadlines, meeting schedules, court dates, and travel itineraries. Even simple cases will require some level of calendared items. Most attorneys will have to balance several cases at once. This requires a high level of time management and organizational skills.