Top 6 Qualities That Every Good Lawyer Should Possess
Sometimes lawyers are so focused on honing their legal skills that they don’t recognize themselves as entrepreneurs. Yet an entrepreneur is one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of an activity or business.
Too few law schools teach future lawyers how to run their law practice. How do you know if you will be good at it? Here are six essential qualities embodied by successful entrepreneurs that apply to your law practice: resilience, curiosity, agility, resourcefulness, clue-spotting, and tenacity. So, without further ado, let’s dive into this blog and learn more about these.
In the practice of law, you have to overcome failure almost daily. In your line of work, there are indeed people who are paid to come on your turf, find your mistakes, and get you in trouble. You never get everything you want in a negotiation. In the courtroom, you win some arguments and lose others. Some clients you would like to serve will instead choose to hire the very people who often try to outsmart you.
You use a lot of new technologies, and some aspects of their malfunction or confuse you almost every day. And if you’re not resilient, you won’t last a week! Lawyers need to develop even more resilience: to survive the inevitable monthly billing drops, the eventual irrationally dissatisfied client, the resignation of indispensable collaborators, the delays and long hours, and even burnout.
Many lawyers must consciously develop and maintain this trait. Your attraction to certainty, “black and white” finality, and the law tend to stifle your curiosity. The law tells you what is right and wrong, especially if it is on your side; you cling to it. However, life and the practice of law rarely fit completely into the “black and white” worlds.
Curiosity helps you better understand your clients’ needs and objectives. It allows you to find a new and acceptable way to get them what they want when the strategy they have developed to achieve it is illegal or objectionable to the other party. Even when the law clearly applies to the situation at hand, you are dealing with someone who claims otherwise, and sometimes that someone is your client.
Curiosity helps you discover the clue that unlocks your opponent’s case. Curiosity makes room for compassion, thus softening the resistance blocking conflict resolution. Curiosity leads you to innovation, which reveals a winning and unconventional strategy or opens a whole new market for your law practice.
You need agility to develop a new theory when it turns out that your client’s version of events wasn’t right. You need agility to quickly cut expenses or find a new market when the economy falls, or new legislation jeopardizes your practice.
Your mental agility allows you to react on the spot when responding to opposing counsel in front of the judge. It helps you move from writing complex pleadings to answering a client’s phone call about another issue. Your agility allows you to adopt new technology or new ways of doing things that create differentiating advantages for your practice.
You often start out with smaller budgets than firms that can pool the resources of multiple lawyers. You find free or less expensive ways to do your legal research and manage your administrative tasks. You solve minor technology glitches yourself because you don’t have IT, staff on your side. You find and hire employees who can juggle several things simultaneously, or you engage liberally in outsourcing and virtual assistants.
You expand your knowledge base and develop mutually supportive relationships with lawyers in other areas of expertise because you don’t have a partner down the hall to ask a question. You learn how to make coffee, clear a paper jam, electronically scan a document, balance the budget and manage staff. When you have personal responsibility for the success of your practice, you find ways to get things done.
5. Detecting clues
Most of you unconsciously pick up on clues. This is what suddenly helps you discern what the other side is trying to hide from you. In particular, this ability guides you in choosing the most likely argument to convince a judge.
When you consciously engage in clue detection, you can identify the key elements of a recurring problem, such as why you keep reaching the end of the day without starting the most important project you were supposed to work on. More importantly, you can use clue detection to predict the future and anticipate developments in your field.
All entrepreneurs who survive are tenacious. Entrepreneurs need to keep asking questions and looking for different solutions to achieve their goals. That’s just what you need in case of the inevitable problems, public transport strikes, breakdowns, disappointments, and you are the one who has to deal with them.
Sometimes tenacity and belief in your vision may be all that gets you through the challenges. Those who lack tenacity end up leaving the practice of law or resigning themselves to working in an environment where they trade autonomy and control of their destiny for increased security. This is not bad. It’s just not an entrepreneurial approach.
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