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Essential Soft Skills Lawyers Need to Succeed

Let's face it: law practice is a business. Sure, we may aspire to help the homeless, free the tempest-tossed, and breathe life into the standard of liberty and justice for all. But if lawyers can't bring in business, then they will be out of business.

Staying in business really comes down to finding clients and keeping them happy. This requires all the standard skills needed to thrive in the practice of law. But it also requires so-called "soft skills."

Here are a few soft skills to develop in your business that you may not have learned in law school.

Thanksgiving is on the horizon, which means that the holiday party season is just a step behind it. Once you hear Nat King Cole singing about chestnuts roasting on an open fire -- so Friday, basically -- get ready to be inundated with winter party plans.

Of course, the holiday party isn't just a chance to down some eggnog and sample gingerbread cookies. It's a prime networking opportunity. Here are some tips to help you network right this holiday season.

If your firm's revenue growth has been stagnant or even declined, you're not alone. Law firms experienced a sizable drop in revenue per partner last year, according to National Law Journal's annual 'Survey of Law Firm Economics.'

On average, revenue per partner dropped 4.7 percent in 2015, the biggest decline ever identified by the survey. What could be behind the dip?

If you want to increase your law firm's revenue, think twice before raising your rates. That's the take away from a new report by Thomson Reuters Peer Monitor, which surveyed data among firms and found that those who raised their rates the slowest tended to have higher demand and revenue.

The report's results go against conventional practice, which typically sees firms raising billing rates in order to grow revenue -- a practice that could need some rethinking, in light of the study's findings.

Four years ago, Congress passed the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act, or JOBS Act, which removed barriers that keep the public from providing capital to startup businesses; equity crowdfunding was about to be legalized. Then, just this May, the SEC's "Regulation Crowdfunding" rules went into effect. Suddenly, every regular Joe and Jane can become an investor in new companies.

It's one of the biggest changes to securities law in decades, and it could result in a lot of small time investors, and small companies, needing your legal guidance.

If you want to make it rain, you've got to hustle. But some of us would prefer not to. Maybe you're an introvert, or maybe inauthentic schmoozing turns you off, or maybe you'd just rather go home after a long day and take a nap. We understand.

But you're still going to need to get out there and make connections anyway. So here are some tips to help you network -- tips that don't require you to collect every business card or attend every cocktail party.

Over the past decade, craft brewing has taken off, with hip, local microbreweries popping up everywhere from post-industrial Brooklyn to downtown St. Louis, just a DIPA's throw away from the Anheuser-Busch mega breweries.

But your small batch sours are no longer the hot new thing when it comes to drinking. The cool kids these days (along with plenty of discerning drinkers) are all about craft distilling, seeking out the best microvodkas, the rarest whiskeys, and the most artisanal bitters. And when craft distilling booms, so too does the need for skilled, knowledgeable attorneys to guide small distillers through this highly-regulated industry.

Growth is good. But how do you go about it? You could take in more clients, bring on higher-paying clients, or make more efficient use of the resources you already have.

To help you out, here are our top posts on growing your small or solo firm's profits, from the FindLaw archives.

Succession planning isn't easy. After all, no one likes to think about death, particularly their own.

While many adults can cope with their mortality long enough to put together a will or estate plan, when it comes of business succession planning, one of the biggest obstacles facing lawyers is convincing business owners to just get started. Here's how attorneys can help clients get over their inertia.

If arguments about gender parity, viewpoint diversity, and good old-fashion equality hasn't convinced you of the importance of women in leadership, maybe this will: having women in power is connected to increased profitability.

A study recently released by the Peterson Institute for International Economics and EY (Ernst & Young) shows that having a woman in the highest corporate positions is correlated to better profits. The legal industry, long dominated by men, might want to take note.