What are the attributes of a top lawyer?

Whether you’re fresh from graduation and looking to land a training contract or have gained experience and seeking the next step in your legal career, there’s never a bad time to sharpen your skills. However, beyond the competencies needed to complete the day-to-day tasks of a legal professional are the soft skills that separate a good lawyer from a great one.

Intelligence and experience may be a given: in order to stand out and enhance their employability, ambitious individuals in this sector would be wise not to ignore the personal attributes that can aid them in offering effective solutions and an excellent client service. Practice makes perfect, and the following traits certainly put lawyers who have them a cut above the rest:

Compassion

It takes more than strong analytical skills to gain a reputation as a great lawyer. Listening may not be a skill taught in law school, but the need for lawyers to exercise empathy and show compassion to their clients is fundamental to their success in the profession.

To have compassion is to take the time to consider the problems of others and show a genuine willingness to help – this is what people expect from their lawyers once instructed. The compassionate lawyer does not solely devise practical solutions for their clients, they seek to gain an understanding of their individual circumstances and are accepting of their perspective.

Judgement

When presented with little or incomplete information, a good lawyer is able to critically consider the facts at hand and draw reasonable conclusion. Similarly, lawyers must possess the ability to evaluate their own judgements so as to identify potential weak areas within the argument that need reinforcement. Good judgement and decisiveness are skills that are refined through experience, but will enable a lawyer to make important calls quickly and secure the best results for their clients.

Creativity

While most people wouldn’t think to use the word ‘creative’ when describing the responsibilities of a legal profession, it’s a trait that aids every lawyer to find practical solutions to the issues faced by their clients.

Every client is unique; each issue they present to their lawyer requires a tailored approach that reflects their requirements and objectives. The ability to think outside the box and balance technical knowledge with creativity makes for a highly reliable lawyer; it enables a lawyer to quickly identify the best approach in securing a strong outcome with minimal risk.

Assertiveness

Lawyers in film and television are often portrayed as aggressive, yet the best of the profession are merely assertive. Rather than attacking others or blatantly ignoring their input, assertive lawyers simply know how to express their opinion in a way that is respectful yet impactful.

If a lawyer is too aggressive, they won’t be able to understand the adversary’s position to anticipate particular risks in their client’s case, an approach that can quickly damage outcomes and relationships.

Perseverance

Becoming a lawyer requires perseverance in itself: from the undergraduate law degree to the training contract and finally qualification, the road is long and takes great determination from students.

Once qualified and working in the legal profession, their role will still demand a great deal of commitment, from seeing cases through to a successful conclusion to climbing the career ladder in this increasingly competitive profession.