Lawyers often find themselves wearing a lot of different hats when it comes to the professional world. They are not just legal experts; but also consummate business professionals which may have to tap into multiple skills across numerous disciplines. Here are 5 business skills every lawyer should master in order to succeed in their legal practice, whether dealing with a large or small law firm:
Client Relationship Management
Lawyers need to be able to build and maintain strong relationships with their clients, which requires effective communication skills including empathy, and a client-centric approach. In order to manage clients effectively Lawyers need to also be adept at negotiation and conflict resolution. Lawyers should be able to understand their clients’ needs, provide excellent customer service, and manage client expectations – know what the client wants before they do. This could mean things as simple as keeping them informed of progress for cases, future actions or important dates that contribute greatly to the client’s experience.
Time and Organization Management
Lawyers will find themselves needing to prioritize their workload and often have to juggle multiple cases or goals. They often have to manage multiple tasks simultaneously and manage time efficiently in order to reach those ends. This requires strong organizational and planning skills involving crucial workload balance, which often requires the critical task of delegating tasks to other members of their team. This may be crucial to meeting deadlines and the delivery of consistent quality work. The most important aspects of time and organization management Lawyers should prioritize tasks, set realistic deadlines, and use effective tools such as delegating tasks in order to manage their time successfully.
Financial and Corporate Management
Lawyers need to understand how their business costs can impact the management of their overall finances effectively, both for their own small or large firm and for their clients (and subsequently the client relationship). It is critical that Lawyers should be able to understand financial statements and make informed decisions based on whatever applicable financial data. This can include budgeting, tracking expenses, accounts management, and communicating or billing clients in a timely and accurate manner. One of the many crucial skills any Lawyer should begin to master is to have a basic understanding of accounting and finance to manage their small or large law firm’s finances effectively.
Marketing, Networking, and Business Development
Another overlooked skill that Lawyers will absolutely need is how to attract new clients and grow their practice. This skill can be as streamlined as marketing and business development skills, which of course includes networking and creating a strong online presence through social media or other avenues of digital marketing. This can be incredibly important if you are involved in a niche legal area or are catering to a small population center. Marketing and networking are considered two of the foundational building blocks towards growing a successful legal practice. Some examples of specific areas of marketing or networking that are critical to small or large law firms are creating a strong personal brand, building and marketing yourself to build relationships with potential clients and gain referral sources, and lastly learning how leveraging digital marketing tools can improve exposure and client interaction.
Leadership, Communication, and Team Building Management
Whether you are part of a large or small law firm, Lawyers work in teams. The firm needs to be able to manage and motivate their team members effectively, and this goes for both small and large firms. Communication, delegation, and conflict resolution are some of the most important strong leadership skills required for success in any industry. When dealing with teams and groups large and small, Lawyers should be able to create a positive work environment that fosters collaboration and creativity. This includes setting clear expectations, providing feedback, and motivating your team to deliver high-quality work. Additionally, lawyers should work on developing their emotional intelligence to help them manage stress, build resilience, and communicate effectively with clients and colleagues.