The legal landscape is changing rapidly. Competition from alternative legal service providers, virtual law firms, and other sources means that law firms and lawyers must offer a variety of skills in addition to legal advice. The once-staid legal arena has become a competitive business that moves as quickly as the industries it serves. Law firms, attorneys, and support staff must be flexible, agile, and constantly evolving. Here are 10 evolving skills that lawyers need to be competitive in today’s market:
Even tech-averse lawyers should learn the legal technology that drives most law firms. E-billing, contract management, e-discovery, and data management are all part of the day-to-day procedures of modern law offices. Beyond the practice, realizing the importance of rising technology trends is essential. Attorneys should be familiar with AI, blockchain, cryptocurrency, and cyber-security developments and the implications these technologies may have on their client’s businesses.
Clients expect their attorneys to understand their businesses. The most valuable lawyers are proficient in law, accounting, finance, and business. They know how a client’s particular business or industry operates and its challenges. A lawyer with business acumen can provide knowledgeable advice that goes beyond legalities and considers the broader business implications.
Even if a firm has a marketing department, successful lawyers take the initiative to market themselves. Identify your niche and personal brand – are you a commercial construction lawyer, a renewable energy specialist, or a fierce litigator? Personal marketing can include publishing articles, speaking at events, participating in panels, teaching, volunteering, and strategically using appropriate social media channels.
Addressing clients, partners, the media, or a judge and jury are all instances of public speaking that a lawyer may encounter. Speaking clearly, concisely, and persuasively is a critical skill that anyone in the legal field should practice and perfect throughout their career. Ask a mentor to evaluate your public speaking abilities, watch instructional videos, sign up for classes, and practice as often as possible.
Commercial awareness refers to identifying the news and developments that might affect your clients or the law firm where you work. Whether it’s a new industry regulation or the arrival of a competitor, attorneys should develop their commercial awareness by staying up-to-date with current affairs, business, politics, industry trends, and legal developments.
Effective networking involves more than attending an event and nursing a cocktail while making small talk. Cultivating a steady stream of potential clients, allies, and referrals is an invaluable skill. Make room in your schedule to attend professional events to meet new people. Take the time to make authentic connections and, most importantly, follow up.
Lawyers are trained to take in large amounts of information and to think strategically. This makes them ideal to be at the forefront of managing a client’s crisis. In today’s media-centric environment, the company’s attorney addresses the press immediately after an emergency. Lawyers with crisis management and communications skills are in high demand, with some firms dedicating a practice group to the subject.
Emotional intelligence (EI) describes a person’s ability to identify, understand, manage, and harness their emotions and those of the people around them. Successful lawyers must empathize with clients, understand their needs, and handle high-pressure situations gracefully. They also need to work well with the firm’s attorneys, partners, and support staff. Develop your EI by listening to and supporting colleagues, offering constructive feedback, and helping to resolve conflicts.
The legal landscape constantly evolves with new regulations, innovations, competitors, and working methods. Firms need adaptable professionals who can keep pace with these changes and pivot their approach when necessary. Legal professionals should manage their reactions to new developments and be willing to learn and evolve. When the next workplace or industry change arises, embrace the shift instead of digging in your heels and sticking to “the old way.”
If your firm is looking for outstanding legal candidates with relevant skill sets and qualities, Collier Legal can help. We can connect you with a large pool of Houston’s leading legal candidates to help you build and enhance your team. Our experienced staff can help you determine the availability of talent on the market and set your firm up for continued success. Contact us to learn more.