The practice of law is not easy. It doesn't help that the legal field is becoming increasingly competitive. To stay on top, it's important to get back to the basics by focusing on the skills that make you a success. No matter what area of law you practice, having these five skills will help you to thrive in your day-to-day life as a modern attorney.
Being able to think logically should be left unsaid, but unfortunately, an abundance of caution forces us to highlight logic here. As lawyers, we must do things that philosophers of math would hate. At times, when the facts do not support our client's case, we must distinguish. That's code for rationalization.
"Rationalization" is such an ugly word, but it comes with the job. And when things are really bad, we appeal to equity. But we must always remember to be prepared to make a sound, cohesive, and logical argument. Because if rationalization is all you've got, you're in the wrong business.
2. Financial Literacy
Financial literacy is something that everyone should get better at. Remember how you avoided accounting classes in high school and college? Now you're paying for it.
Getting good at handling your money and maximizing your gains is something that can massively work towards yours interests even in the short term. You will do well to take the time to learn how to handle your income and expenses.
Too many lawyer are too eager to get their hands on client checks, yet too few know how to properly handle their books. Today, a number of different free programs exist that will help you track your numbers. All you have to do is sit down once a week and plug those numbers in. This is a starting point, but by no means an end. At a minimum, you should know that stuffing papers into your desk and just leaving them there can no longer be accepted.
3. Basic Technological Competence
Here's another skill lawyers lack. The best place to start is with basic encryption techniques. At FindLaw, a few of our excellent writers have written pieces on how to begin with basic encryption of files, computer hardware, and your email. Unless you plan to pick up programming skills (by all means, if you can find the time), you'll have to at least become competent with how to handle and decrypt different client materials if there is a lot of handling between you and another attorney.
4. Time Management
Lawyers, more than others, are just bad at time management. As a whole, when a lawyer says a job will take one hour, it ends up taking two; two, four, etc. Most of the time, things take longer because of distractions. Some of the practicing lawyers we know actively seek out quiet areas to complete very important tasks -- the library conference room for example. You'll find that not only do you finish the project faster, you also finish with better quality. The moral? Stop multi-tasking!
5. Let Go of Your Ego
Develop an easy attitude and a thicker skin because practicing law involves a lot of bumps and bruises and hits to the self-esteem.
One's ego tends to motivate the repetition of the same mistakes over and over, and to develop shortsightedness. This will cause you to make stupid and costly mistakes. Once frustration reaches a limit, step back and learn humility. In these frantic times, you'll find that your very health with depend on your ability to step back, re-assess, and drop your hubris.
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