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What communication skills make a good lawyer ?

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#lawyer I am wondering about the specific communication skills like eloquence or such?

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John’s Answer

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Carolina, In order to become a “good lawyer”, you'll have to naturally have certain qualities. Some of these qualities you've discovered within yourself already, others you may need to work on. The last thing a client wants is a lawyer who will misrepresent their case!

FIVE QUALITIES OF A GOOD LAWER

GOOD COMMUNICATION – Lawyers must be orally articulate, have good written communication skills and also be good listeners. All lawyers must be able to speak clearly and concisely. Another aspect of speaking skills is to understand legal terminology. Legal professionals have to be able to understand and explain the terminology to the client. If you can’t understand your lawyer, then neither can the jury. Lawyers must also be able to write clearly, persuasively and concisely, as they must produce a variety of legal documents.

LISTENING SKILLS – In order to properly understand the case, all lawyers must listen to their clients. Without listening skills, the lawyer will miss pertinent information. For the strongest case possible, the lawyer must understand every aspect of the case and look at it from all angles. This allows them to gauge juror’s reactions and the honesty of witnesses. This allows them to decide upon the best approach to take in order to achieve the desired outcome: either clients taking their advice or reaching a favorable negotiation with the opposition.

JUDGEMENT – The ability to draw reasonable, logical conclusions or assumptions from limited information is essential as a lawyer. You must also be able to consider these judgements critically, so that you can anticipate potential areas of weakness in your argument that must be fortified against. Similarly, you must be able to spot points of weakness in an oppositions argument. Decisiveness is also a part of judgement. There will be a lot of important judgement calls to make and little time for sitting on the fence.

RESEARCH – Preparing legal strategies requires absorbing and comprehending large amounts of information, then distilling them down into something manageable and useful. At times, there will be more than one reasonable conclusion, or more than one precedent applicable to resolving a situation. That’s where the research and investigation comes in. All lawyers should know how to work with investigators, use online resources, research laws, regulations, and judicial opinions to back their case up. A lawyer must therefore have the evaluative skills in order to choose which is the most suitable.

ENDURANCE – Working as a lawyer means you’ll have to regularly put in long hours to achieve your goals. It’s just part of the job to have to sacrifice a little bit of yourself. Lawyers who have a lot of energy and stamina tend to be better at their jobs since they don’t mind walking that extra mile with their clients to get the results they want. Even studying to become a lawyer takes a great deal of perseverance and commitment – and that’s before you even start practicing law.

The skills you need for your ideal career are something that you can work on and develop over time. As they say Carolina: “practice makes perfect.”

Hope this was Helpful

John recommends the following next steps:

  • Self-Assessment – Before embarking on a career path in the law, it is important to conduct an honest self-assessment to determine if a career in the law is a good fit for you.
  • Do Your Home Work – Explore websites for information relating to the qualifications, duties, educational requirements, and job outlook relating to the kind of legal position your interested in.
  • Find a Mentor – A great way to jump-start your career, is to find a mentor who can educate you regarding the benefits, pitfalls, job prospects, employment outlook, salary and daily tasks of the profession.
  • Become Tech-Savvy – Lawyers, paralegals, and other legal professionals have a significant advantage in today's' legal marketplace they are tech-savvy.
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Kim’s Answer

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Speaking primarily from the perspective of a client, who also did some freelance work for some attorneys, I noticed that attorneys have to adapt several different "personas" in the course of their work.

In front of the jury, they need to be likable. They can turn into jerks, for just a moment, when needed to advocate for their client, but they then need to go back to being likable.

In negotiations and mediations, they need to be able to bluff with a poker face. My mediation went well because when the other side presented the mediator with what they considered to be damaging e-mails, we simply told the mediator, with all sincerity, "we are prepared to answer for those in open court."

They need to understand that it's not personal. Two lawyers. Two sides. Two clients. Each lawyer trying to do the best for his/her client,

They need to be confident and well-organized. Strong communication skills are based on preparedness.

They need to be quick on their feet. When a judge sustains an objection, they need to be able to come at the same information from a different perspective.

They need to know grammar! Too many cases have hinged on the meaning of modifiers, etc.

My recommendations to all perspective lawyers: Toastmistress Club (to practice public speaking), Latin vocabulary, Grammar, Debate, Speech, Moot Court (if offered), and Logic (usually in the Philosophy Department).

And yes, listening helps! My lawyer actually learned the in's and out's of my case better than I knew them, and I was very immersed in it!

Hope this helps!
Kim
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Jennifer’s Answer

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Active Listening is by far the most important skill in my experience. Active listening means building trust and establishing rapport. Demonstrating concern. Paraphrasing to show understanding. Nonverbal cues which show understanding such as nodding, eye contact, and leaning forward.
Brief verbal affirmations like “I see,” “I know,” “Sure,” “Thank you,” or “I understand.” Remember that lawyers are often considered counselors or business partners. Would you go to a counselor that talks over you or judges you? Leave that to the Judge. Listening is the key.

Second most important communication tool is writing - delivering the message. I find that how I deliver the message is just as important as the content of my message. All the legal research and experience in the world can't help me if I alienate the client or my colleagues.

Finally, I find that I earn mega-points on communication by ending each conversation with, "How can I help?" That goes for internal and external communication.
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Hanna’s Answer

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Good question. You need to be able to communicate in two different ways: 1) using legal terminology when communicating with other legal counterparts or when writing official documents for your clients (which you will learn in law school and from work experience), and 2) using "normal" language when talking to your clients, so that you phrase complex legal issues in "simple" English, so that a non-lawyer clearly understands (this is what you learn on the job). It also depends a bit what type of lawyer you are, i.e. if you work in a law firm, if you appear in court or if you are an in-house lawyer in a company (point 2 becomes even more important then). Lawyers have a tendency to speak and write in a complex way to make sure they don't leave anything out and there's no risk of ambiguity (misunderstanding), so you have to learn how to tailor your communication to your audience. This is where trainings on presentation or public speaking skills can be helpful. And once you start working, ask for feedback.
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Riley’s Answer

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The first things that come to my mind when I think of a good lawyer are likeability and confidence. Being a lawyer is all about presenting your clients story (whether it is the defense or prosecuting side) in a way that is believable and understandable to the jury. To do this, you need to be able to show that you truly believe in what you are selling (whether you really do or not) and that you are a trustworthy person. There are many small social cues you can give off to be likable and believable to people (there are plenty of videos and articles about this on the internet) and confidence comes with practice and dedication.

Riley recommends the following next steps:

  • Watch some movies that focus on great lawyers! Two that come to mind for me are My Cousin Vinny and Chicago.
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Kimberly’s Answer

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Strong communication skills are necessary to be a good lawyer. This entails the ability to offer succinct advice to clients while providing the information related to the client's case in a relatable way. Most clients are not familiar with legalese and therefore need to hear the advice in layman's terms (words that are more commonly and universally understood). But just as important as communication is truly listening to the client and assessing his/her needs before offering an opinion. Best of luck to you!
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Nadia’s Answer

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It may sound a bit not related to communication, but indeed it helps a lot - ability to work under pressure. Sometimes your clients will be annoyed, frustrated, under stress etc. and their way of communication will be impacted by those factors. You need to remain calm, professional and supportive. Allowing your emotions to take control can also impact your communication skills.
It's not easy to learn it, but at the end of the day, I guess it will definitely pay off :)
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Kimberly’s Answer

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Strong communication skills are necessary to be a good lawyer. This entails the ability to offer succinct advice to clients while providing the information related to the client's case in a relatable way. Most clients are not familiar with legalese and therefore need to hear the advice in layman's terms (words that are more commonly and universally understood). But just as important as communication is truly listening to the client and assessing his/her needs before offering an opinion. Best of luck to you!
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