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10 Skills You Need to Develop for a Successful Law Career

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Working in law naturally requires a specific skill set, especially if you want to succeed. With years of experience under our belt, the lawyers at Schmidt&Clark have developed some key interpersonal skills and technical skills that have helped them immensely.

If you're thinking of pursuing a legal career or are already working in the legal profession, read on to find out what basic skills you need and how to develop skills to succeed.

Summary of the Key Findings

  • Making well-researched decisions is important to be successful in the legal marketplace.
  • To build a successful career in law, you will need to remain calm in difficult situations and consistently meet deadlines.
  • Having strong oral and written communication skills is crucial if you want to be a solicitor. This way, you can effectively carry out the duties of the job.

A person on the phone while holding paperwork and coffee

1. Teamwork

As a lawyer, you will often work with other legal professionals on cases. It is crucial to work well in a team to get the job done efficiently.

You need to be respectful and listen to other people's opinions in a group. If you can't do that, you will not be successful in this job.

In my experience, people usually want to work with people they like. If you are nice to them, they might recommend you to other people. Being appreciated by your clients is an excellent way to get ahead in your career.

2. Initiative and Independence

A lawyer holding paperwork with a gavel at the tableIn law, you need to be able to work on your own and take the initiative. That independence means that you need to be able to start and finish projects without someone telling you what to do.

As a trainee lawyer, you will be given responsibility, which means you will have to find solutions to problems. It would help if you did not rely on others all the time.

However, this does not mean that you should struggle alone. Taking the initiative includes knowing when to ask questions or ask for help.

3. Creative Problem-Solving Skills

Every day, legal professionals are faced with problems that need to be solved. To be successful in this career, you need to be able to think outside the box and come up with creative solutions.

"As a lawyer, your job is to find solutions to problems. You need to see both sides of the issue and find a way to solve the problem that is fair to both parties." Jameson Jones, a Corporate Lawyer

Creative thinking is critical in law because it shows that you can find solutions that others might not be able to see. It also shows that you are open-minded and willing to try new things.

You can develop this skill by doing puzzles and brainteasers. These will help you think in new ways and see things from different perspectives. 

4. Written Communication Skills

A person writing to a piece of paperAs a lawyer, you will often have to write reports, letters, and emails. You need to be able to communicate clearly and concisely in writing.

Communicating in writing is a vital skill because it shows that you can effectively express your thoughts and ideas.

You can develop this skill by practicing writing. Try to write for different audiences and in different styles. For example, you could write a letter to a friend, a report for school, or an email to your boss.

5. Verbal Communication Skills

In law, communication is very important. You need to be able to communicate your thoughts and ideas clearly and concisely. This is one of the fundamental soft skills because it shows that you can express yourself effectively.

You will also have to do client meetings, phone calls, and presentations as a solicitor. These activities are part of your day-to-day work.

You can develop this skill by practicing speaking in front of people. This practice will help you get over any nerves and give you the confidence to speak in front of others. You can also join public speaking clubs or groups. 

6. Work Under Pressure

A person stressed from paperworkAs a lawyer, you will often have to work under pressure. This is because deadlines need to be met and cases that need to be won. You need to handle the stress and still deliver high-quality work.

To develop this skill, I recommend setting personal deadlines before the official ones. This will help you make sure that you complete tasks on time while competing priorities.

You can also practice your time management skills further by making timetables and plans to help you manage your time effectively. 

7. Commercial Awareness

To be a successful lawyer, you need to have commercial awareness. This is because you need to understand the business that your clients are in. You also need to understand the market and the competition, making it one of the most important soft skills needed.

The client expects their lawyer to understand how their business works. They also want the lawyer to know about any social, political, or economic issues that may affect their business. The lawyer must also understand their client's proposal's short, medium, and long-term implications if it is relevant. This will help them give the best legal advice.

You can develop this skill by reading business news and articles. You can also attend events and networking functions. This will help you meet people from different businesses and learn about their companies. 

8. Understanding People

Two office people discussing paperwork to each otherAs a lawyer, you will often have to deal with people from all walks of life. You need to understand their needs and wants by acquiring people skills.

This is because you need to be able to give them the best legal advice possible.

You can develop this skill by studying psychology [1]. This practice will help you to understand why people behave the way they do. I also suggest that you read books and articles on how to understand people. 

9. Attention to Detail

A lawyer always has to deal with large documents and even unclear ones. They need to be able to find key pieces of complex information in these documents. This may be evidence to support their case or proofreading a contract when missing a detail or a single word can ruin everything.

You can develop this skill by reading and understanding complex texts. This will help you to spot any grammatical errors that you have made.

10. Legal Research Skills/Preparation

A person writing to a piece of paper with coffee and glasses on the tableAs a lawyer, you need to be able to research information quickly and effectively.

You will often have to look up legal documents, cases, and laws. You also need to be able to find information about your opponents.

You also need to be able to research and find information on your own.

Researching is a vital skill because it shows that you are willing to work hard and find the answers yourself

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What is the most important skill for a lawyer?

The most important skill for a lawyer is researching and finding information quickly and effectively. This is because lawyers often have to browse through cases and laws. They also need to be able to find information about their opponents in a short period.


To conclude, the top three most critical legal skills required for a lawyer are the ability to research, understand people, and pay attention to detail.

These are just a few skill sets that you need to develop to be a successful lawyer in this field. Remember, it is crucial to keep learning and develop new skills. This will help you to be the best lawyer possible.

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