A person certified and trained in the theory and practice of law, and licensed to give legal advice and to represent others in litigation or arbitration within a particular jurisdiction are referred to as lawyers. Lawyers are expected to have specialization in advising clients on the application of laws to their case and remedies available thereof. However, due to the immense competition amongst individuals and the stake of achievement being rather high, every student looks for hacks that could help him climb the ladder of success sooner and better than others. This is because in the age of information technology, the opportunities have become limited, and one needs not just to work hard but also work smart for gaining recognition. This blog lays down ways in which an aspiring student of law or a lawyer who has just begun his/her practice can follow some steps to improve the quality of work and output.
Responsibilities / Career Prospects
Before diving into the tricks of the trade, one should be well aware of the purpose of acquiring those traits. This helps in realizing when and where a particular skill can come of use. The career prospects and responsibilities of a lawyer are:
- Oral Arguments in the court of law (This is a primary work of any litigant who wishes to argue before the courts and take up cases of clients. Note that corporate and litigation are two different types of field of work. A practising lawyer can be both an advocate and a lawyer, but a lawyer in a corporate firm cannot be an advocate as per the Advocates Act 1961 as he/she does not practice in the court. Corporate firm work has more to do with legal drafting, auditing, etc.)
- Research and drafting of court papers (Work done in courts for clients)
- Written and oral advocacy in administrative hearings(Administrative hearings are like a trial proceeding before an administrative agency or an administrative judge. It is often a shorter and informal version of a trial.)
- Client counselling (This is all about advising clients about the legal implications of their actions.)
- Negotiating (Negotiation, Mediation, conciliation are non-binding. Arbitration is legally binding.)
- Conveyancing (This is a process included in both buying and selling of property. A lawyer ensures that the property title is transferred in compliance with all laws. It is also ensured that all interests of the client are met.)
- Prosecution and defence of the criminal suspect
Qualities that define a good lawyer:
- Good Communication Skills: Lawyers must be orally articulate, have good written communication skills, and be good listeners. Their writings must be clear, persuasive, and concise.
- Judgment: To draw reasonable and logical conclusions or analysis from limited information. The judgement also involves critiquing your own analysis for finding out loopholes and weaknesses. Same goes for an opponent's argument.
- Analytical skills: Having large information and combining it to form logical connections is what analysis is all about. In times where there is more than one precedent applicable to a problem and more that one reasonable conclusion, one must know how to find our the most important one that fits the relevant legal issue.
- Research skills: This is well known in every subject pertaining to law. What matters here is that one must know the sources from which the solutions to his research questions can be drawn promptly in order to prepare legal strategies.
- People’s skills: Law, unlike an abstract practice, is a vocation that requires good people's skill. This means having a clear line of thought while talking to people, having an amicable attitude. These skills can also come handy while pursuing a negotiation. Important skills are to be able to read others, being persuasive and personable.
- Perseverance: Perseverance is tested greatly in this vocation as the dynamics of it keep changing with new laws and new perspectives of those laws in force. The changing times may also bring judgments that interpret the law differently than precedents, which shall result in bringing in new insights. Hence, a lawyer needs the greatest perseverance to ensure he/she is up to date with every information.
- Creativity: Finally, Creativity is about thinking outside the box. This can also mean having a keen idea about the philosophy and jurisprudence of law that can go a long way for a lawyer who wants to master the subject. Such topics like jurisprudence cover a wide array of interpretations which enable a practising lawyer/inspiring students to articulate and comprehend why laws exist and whether the intent behind framing laws comply with the norms that should exist in society as per scholars.
Jenniffer Overhaus in her book Juggling the big for Lawyers: A career building plan for developing your personal brand, client business, and leadership mindset, talks about how being a successful lawyer is different from being a great lawyer. In her book, she says that those who are successful may not be great lawyers while those who are great lawyers may never get recognized on a large scale or be successful.
Besides having intelligence, analytical, and oral and verbal communication skills, she says that a great lawyer emphasizes on specializing in a subject area that deeply intrigues him and is his passion. Great lawyers have a knack of understanding the true aim and objective of his client and framing his arguments on that basis.
She also points out the relevance of what we call ‘marketing’ as not just a tool for enterprises but also for a lawyer’s personal business. This requires an individual to have skills of networking, building relationships, public speaking, and being an influence upon people besides lawyering. She points out that networking and being business-oriented is as much a necessity as is having other skills. This acts as a way to gather more connections leading to generating more clients. Hence, earning a good name as a lawyer in the firm or elsewhere an attracting greater appreciation.
Law as a profession is highly challenging due to its dynamism. On the contrary, it also requires professionals who are not just good with the law but also have an edge in terms of the amount of knowledge they possess about various aspects of the law. Hence, this profession is all about a 360-degree approach to a legal issue or a political issue as the law is the originator of every practice and is a structure on which everything stands.