While most courses you’ll get in law school are important to become a successful lawyer, there are a number of other skills that are required to propel your career forward. Because these skills aren’t usually taught in law school doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be working on them though.
Each of the skills mentioned below can be learned by just about anybody if you just put in the necessary time.
Looks aren’t everything, but being a lawyer it is important that you dress well. If your firm’s partners wear suits, you should be wearing suits as well. Make sure to get a classic, well-fitting suit and a number of shirts and matching ties. If you don’t know how to dress well, get advise from a friend who dresses well or an employee at a clothing store.
As a lawyer you’ll have to converse with people all the time. Throughout your work week, you’ll be meeting with potential and current clients, colleagues, your boss, etc. Having good social skills can help you get more clients, make current clients feel more confident that you are doing good work for them and help you get along well with colleagues and partners, which can help move along your career more quickly.
Being on time (which really means 5 to 15 minutes early) is very important for a lawyer. Being late for meetings with clients and colleagues will give off a very bad impression and can have a detrimental impact on your career. Try to make it a habit to always be on time for any meeting you have, whether business or personal. Once you get into the habit, it’ll be much easier to consistently be on time.
Not only is it important for a lawyer to be on time, but also to manage your time efficiently. If you are working for different clients on different cases there will be different deadlines coming up all the time. In order to meet these deadlines, it is important that you learn to estimate how long certain tasks will take you and plan them all into your work week with time left over for when you encounter any delays. Always assume things will take longer than you think they will, because that’s just how it usually goes. Over time you’ll become better at estimating how long certain tasks will take you.
If you’re not as productive as you can be, you’ll never get all of your work done as a lawyer. Making todo lists for each day of the week and actually planning uninterrupted chunks of time for doing these tasks will help you get them done as efficiently as possible. As a lawyer you’ll likely be bombarded by phone calls and emails all day long. If you have an assistant, let them handle phone calls and emails when are working on important tasks and only let them disturb you for important matters.
Consistently working on all of these skills while you are studying, during your internships and throughout your career will help move your career as a lawyer forward.