Skills You Need To Become A Lawyer And How To Develop Them

Warning: Do not lie on your CV. Your CV would be the primary talking point of your interview and you will be asked questions on any or all areas of it. Being caught in a lie is embarrassing and is the quickest way to be rejected.

Below are some of the skills required to be a lawyer and ways to develop and demonstrate them.

Attention to detail

In law, one word in the wrong place or forgetting that court deadline can mean something disastrous for your client. A lawyer is expected to be patient, thorough, meticulous and above all, accurate in his work.

How? The first way to demonstrate your attention to detail is by ensuring you do not commit any grammatical or spelling error on your application. None! There is just no excuse. Have two or three friends proofread for you if possible.

You can also highlight any experience you have writing or serving as editor for school paper columns or even blogs.

Communication skills

A good lawyer must be an excellent communicator; a proficient orator and/or a strong writer.

How? You can highlight any experience you have in your university’s moot or debate club, or any other public speaking experience you might have. For written skills, you can point to articles or papers you may have written.

Quick thinking/analytical skills

Logical reasoning and critical thinking are essential to practice law. Regardless of your eventual area of specialization, analytical skills are necessary.

How? Your experience with mooting or debating can show that you are able to formulate an argument and present it logically. You could also mention a period where you had to learn something quicker than usual.

Organizational skills and time management

Junior lawyers are expected to be able to perform well under pressure and with tight deadlines. The process of law entails a lot of paperwork, so you would also need to be able to demonstrate organizational skills.

How? If you worked or ran a business part-time at university, this is a good place to mention it. Provided that this venture did not negatively affect your final grade, you can show that you are able to prioritize your time efficiently to meet differing objectives.

Research skills

As a junior lawyer, a lot of the work you will be doing would involve some sort of research or the other.

How? Did you need to be especially resourceful when writing your university project/dissertation? This is a good place to explain that.

Teamwork

Teamwork as a lawyer means working with others to reach a consensus and reach the best possible outcome for all parties, whether in transactions or dispute resolution. Negotiations are based around working with teams which often not only includes your colleagues, but also opposing counsel, clients and regulators. The ability to work collaboratively and effectively with others is of central importance to successful law practice.

How? Good examples of teamwork and interpersonal skills could be involvement in group projects or societies at school. Feel free to also highlight instances where you held leadership positions in such teams and how you worked with your team to achieve a particular goal or target.

Commercial awareness

Law graduates are expected to emerge not only as good lawyers, but as sound business advisors as well. You cannot properly advise a client if you do not understand the sector they operate in.

So, if you are applying to a firm that works with oil companies for instance, you need to have a basic understanding of the structure of such companies and how they make their money.

How? The best way to improve commercial awareness is to read; read newspapers, read articles and legal literature.

Ambition, enthusiasm and energy

Many aspiring lawyers are extremely ambitious, determined and driven. Thus, a popular interview question is “where do you see yourself in five years”. While no one expects you to have all the details, you should have a clear and realistic outline of where you imagine your career heading.

How? At your interview and even on your application, demonstrate a genuine interest in the legal profession, the firm you are applying to, and the work they do. Give examples of some of their recent deals. Your enthusiasm and energy will enable you to talk about the firm and the reasons for your application in a vibrant way and highly-motivated way. Be careful though, if you fake or overdo it, people would be able to tell. If you are genuinely interested in a career in that firm and have done your research, this would come to you naturally.

 

Yimika Adesola is the Founder of Legally Engaged and an Associate in the Corporate/Commercial law arm of a top-tier Nigerian law firm.

She advises blue-chip companies on various areas of law including mergers, acquisitions and capital raisings, restructurings, taxation, finance, employment, compliance, etc.

She also seeks to provide direction to students and young professionals by providing them with the information they need to launch successful careers, and make better career decisions.

Follow Yimika on LinkedIn here.

legallyengagedSkills You Need To Become A Lawyer And How To Develop Them

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