Having worked with and around lawyers, these are my observations. Bear in mind, the lawyers I know are criminal defense, family law, employment law, Immigration, and Civil Rights attorneys. What I have observed may not hold for all.
- Ability to not react to anything they hear or see. That is, keep a "poker face." If you are in negotiations, and someone offers $250,000, when you were thinking you'd do good to get $100,000, you cannot show that you like what you hear. Instead, you need to be able to seriously counter with, "Oh, we were thinking more along the lines of $300,000."
- Ability to think clearly, and, to see an issue from all sides. For example, if you are a criminal defense attorney, and think you have a solid case for your client, you need to be able to anticipate what the prosecution will argue.
- Energy. lots of it! There will be some long days- and nights. Physical health helps with mental health.
- Passion. You need to come across as believing in your client's cause.
- Self-confidence and public speaking
- Interpersonal skills: ability to get along with people you may not like, so, in the interest of your client, you can work out a deal with the opposing counsel. Sometimes you won't even like your clients.
- Active listening skills.
- One of the most frequent complaints is that attorneys do not maintain contact with their clients and keep them informed about the case. Work on developing good frequent communication skills, perhaps with relatives you don't see very often.
- Persistence! Lots of battles are long, and you might think you are behind, but you never give up until you have explored EVERY possible approach.
So far, we have covered skills you can acquire through: drama, chess-playing (anticipating opponent's move), debate team, Aerobic exercise (getting oxygen to the brain - every good lawyer I know does some form of cardio workout).
Add to that, organizational skills. You will need to be able to develop and maintain lots of files,. For each case, you will probably have paper files, electronic files, and an e-mail file, at a minimum, and thousands of documents! You will need to stay current in technology. Many courts require documents to be filed electronically, and technology is used in the courtroom.
Adding to all of the above, I would encourage you to have a background in Latin, and Logic. It's not all just about research and writing, so you also need to be a student of the world, to understand what people mean when they make comparisons to some tv show or movie, for example.
I hope this has helped. Generally speaking, there is a place within the legal system for most people, you just need to figure out where you fit in!