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5 People Skills You Need to Succeed at Your Firm

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By Betty Wang, JD on November 21, 2013 11:55 AM

Do you have the right people skills you need to succeed at your firm? Because sometimes, lawyers are not the most personable. Maybe you're a superstar in the courtroom or when discussing matters that you know like the back of your hand with your client, but remember that how you behave at all times -- especially among the other associates and your staff at your firm -- can go a long way.

People skills are crucial, especially when you essentially work in a service-oriented industry. Not only that, but it can help boost the general flow and contribute to more productivity and just a better atmosphere at work.

So, with that said, here are 5 people skills that may help you succeed at your firm:

  1. A good sense of humor.While humor is of course, subjective, this doesn't mean that you still can't try to diffuse tense situations or lighten the mood with your own brand of it. A law firm is a stressful environment to work in, as it is. You don't want to exacerbate that by having the most serious, humor-less attitude, ever.
  2. Patience with others. Being an attorney is, as mentioned, stressful. But, remember also that you're not the only one. When dealing with your paralegal or the new associate, keep in mind that he or she is just as stressed and under the same pressure to perform well and that a little bit of patience and level-headedness won't be forgotten.
  3. Active listening skills. Being a good listener is key. Remember that you should always actively listen, and not just acknowledge what you hear, but really take it in. This can lead to better communications in general, better work results, and a newfound respect for you and among everyone else at your firm.
  4. The ability to show empathy. While it may seem as though being an attorney sometimes requires you to be anything but empathetic, this couldn't be further from the truth, especially when it comes to surviving at your firm. The ability to place yourself in the shoes of others can help make you more open-minded, more aware, and, well, human.
  5. Being flexible and open. Especially with the holidays coming up and the inevitable change in schedules and workload that this may being, being flexible and open is key to surviving that. Again, open-mindedness can go a long way.

This list can go on for a while. What's key to remember is that at the end of the day, you are working with other people and that the common thread to succeed on any level requires a little (or a lot) of humanity.

Want to pick up even more people skills? Follow us on LinkedIn.

Editor's Note, January 24th, 2017: This article was first published in January, 2014. It has since been updated.

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