The legal sector is a competitive place and law firms tend to take only the best candidates. As well as the necessary qualifications, these 7 key skills can help you to stand out and will pave the way for a successful legal career.
- Being a team player. Depending on the type of law you do and the position you reach within a firm you’ll need to collaborate with many different parties, that could be Barristers and Solicitors from other firms, as well as paralegals, partners and other solicitors internally. It’s crucial to be able to deal with people at all levels of experience, to be persuasive and polite and to inspire trust in those you work with.
- Commercial awareness. A law firm is a business so it’s essential to have a strong understanding of the commercial context in which it operates, that includes current events, local or international, especially those that are impacting sectors relevant to the firm and its clients. There are many ways to do this, from joining industry-specific forums to keeping up with business news and gaining prior experience in a commercial organisation.
- An analytical mind. Law involves a lot of information, from facts and figures to previous case law and huge transaction documents. The ability to absorb and analyse these, identify key points and clearly and concisely explain what’s essential will be crucial to anyone looking to go far in the legal sector.
- Communication skills. A successful legal career will require a range of communication skills and one of the most crucial of these is listening., whether that’s listening to instructions or during a hearing or negotiation this is the best way to ensure that you’re effective. Written communication skills are also essential, especially if you’re choosing an area of law where you’ll be required to write persuasive documents. Being a confident speaker can also take you a long way, whether that’s in court or around the negotiating table.
- Accuracy skills. Law is one sector where small mistakes can have a big impact and be incredibly costly, missing zeros off a contract or being ambiguous in your wording can lead to big problems for the firm and its clients further down the line. Attention to detail is essential and firms will be looking for this from your first application – for example, are there spelling errors in your CV and is the cover letter vague?
- Thinking outside the box. Creative problem solving is an essential part of ensuring a successful legal career, especially as you become more senior. Identifying a solution no one else has thought of or being able to out-think an opponent on a case are critical skills required for a career in law.
- Organisational skills. There is a lot to juggle for any legal practitioner, from attending meetings or court hearings to managing case files and networking. It takes strong organisational skills to ensure that everything gets completed and you maximise the opportunities available to you for advancement.
A successful legal career requires all of the above as well as the confidence and resilience to withstand some tough working conditions and significant pressure.