When people think about lawyers, the picture they have in their head is often influenced by something they’ve seen on film or television. The onscreen portrayal is often unflattering, showing them as callous, ruthless and unsympathetic.
In the real world, however, it’s a very different story. Many different types of people become lawyers. No one personality type is guaranteed to make you a good lawyer. As with most professions, there are good ones and there are bad ones.
If you are thinking about a career in law, here are a few traits that great lawyers share.
They are great communicators
One trait that all good lawyers do possess is communication. A major part of the job is to get their point across calmly and assertively in a number of different ways. They have to articulate themselves to clients, judges and juries all the time. This is the same whether you are thinking of becoming a defense attorney, car or semi truck accident lawyer, or a prosecutor.
You will need to express yourself well in both written and oral forms of communication. On a single day, you could find yourself public speaking and presenting in court or drafting a complex legal document.
They show empathy and compassion
Being able to genuinely connect with another person and their problems in an authentic way is hugely important. You don’t always have to agree with someone or what they have done, but you do need to understand their perspective.
Being able to put yourself in the shoes of your opponent is also a great way to get a competitive edge.
This is one of the most valuable skills a lawyer can have. A good lawyer can reach a good outcome for all parties by negotiating well. If this is a skill you don’t have, then you may not be able to get the best outcome for your clients.
They are assertive
This is not to be confused with aggression. Assertiveness helps lawyers get their point across and makes others take them seriously. Being aggressive on the other hand can be counter-productive and will ultimately alienate colleagues and clients.
They work hard
If you have the type of personality that likes to cut corners, then a career in law isn’t for you. Even getting through law school takes a huge amount of work. Then you need to pass a state bar exam before you’re even allowed to practice.
You’re dealing with huge amounts of complex information on a regular basis and need to put in the work to get the best outcome for your clients.
If you have your heart set on becoming a lawyer but know you’re lacking in some of the above skills, try not to worry too much. A lot of these skills will be taught to you at law school, the rest can be improved. By identifying what skills you need, and any gaps, you have taken the first step to improve yourself.