Being a successful lawyer requires continual upskilling to keep up with industry changes
But just as we expand our abilities and knowledge, our clients’ needs and expectations morph too – becoming more complex and sophisticated year after year. It’s a tricky plate-spinning act that’s tough to get right.
To help you out, we’ve filled this cheat sheet with 5 critical skills every lawyer needs in their toolkit as we head into 2022.
1. Preparing concise and visually persuasive contracts
For years, drafting contracts involved using convoluted phrasing and ambiguous wording.
Today, rapid developments in technology allow lawyers to draft without being constrained by words alone. Drafting now incorporates many other tools, which allow the reader to understand them more readily.
Whether you’re new to the legal profession or a seasoned professional, chances are you aren’t utilising every drafting tool available in the lawyer’s toolkit.
2. Mediating with grace and empathy
Every day, more and more lawyers are realising that mediation is an invaluable complementary skill across almost all specialisations.
Mediation is especially useful in the areas of family law and wills and estates. Where relationships and the law intersect, the stress of the court room is compounded by the strain it places on interpersonal relationships.
Compared to litigation, mediation is a quicker, cheaper and less stressful resolution process that helps parties take control of the outcomes and avoid court.
So if you’re looking to expand your offerings and help clients find a less adversarial resolution process, it might be time to add this practical skill to your legal toolkit.
3. Navigating costs law – because money matters
Costs law affects every legal practitioner.
Whether it’s managing the client relationship, nailing down what constitutes a valid engagement or deciding what your firm can charge, the issue of costs is integral to all forms of legal practice.
Drafting fair cost agreements and managing cost disputes ensures the best outcome for all involved.
Particularly in your foundational years of practice, honing these key skills will ensure your professionalism and profitability
4. Managing ethical dilemmas
Unfortunately, they’re impossible to avoid. And the guidelines around them are often shifting.
Just like death and taxes, you are certain to encounter some curly situations and suspicious clients at various points in your legal career.
So knowing how to identify ‘red flags’ and manage professional scepticism will help you to navigate these grey areas.
Although balancing your obligations to your client and the law is never easy, you can take steps to improve your skills in legal ethics – and protect your reputation in the process.
5. Reaching comprise with adept negotiation
Skilful negotiation is an essential tool in every lawyer’s arsenal.
From crafting adaptable strategies, working through deadlocks and managing conflict, the art of negotiation is multifaceted.
Your ultimate goal is to arrive at the most beneficial compromise for your client. This means building rapport, collecting information, gaining leverage and controlling the agenda – placing your client on a solid path to success.
And who wouldn’t want that?
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