Why performance skills are critical for lawyers

Monday 9th March 2020

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It’s time for a rethink about the language of skill development. For too long, ‘soft skills’ have been the poor relative of ‘technical skills’, neglected in training plans and languishing somewhere near the bottom of a busy lawyer’s to-do list.

What if we rebranded them ‘performance skills’?

After all, in a highly competitive marketplace where it’s increasingly difficult to differentiate between law firms, the unique strengths and capabilities of individual lawyers are surely what sets firms apart? Expert technical advice is a given, but crystal-clear communication skills, commercial acumen and responsiveness are surely what keeps clients coming back.

It’s not hard to see how performance skills have great relevance to legal practice – here are just a few examples:

  • Problem-solving: Generally, clients don’t just want to know the legal position, but rather they have a problem that they want to solve. Enhancing your problem-solving capabilities can help you to give tailored, concise advice to your client which will be more valuable to them in achieving their business or personal goal.
  • Self-motivation: The sole pursuit of a billable hours target isn’t likely to bring much long-term satisfaction – you need to understanding the other factors that keep you working. Displaying a positive attitude and showing commitment and initiative are all indicators of quality that will support your career progression.
  • Time management: Being able to prioritise appropriately enables you to spend your time where it matters most, and it’s at the heart of the ability to work effectively under pressure – undoubtedly a key competence for all lawyers. Knowing what’s on your to-do list and how you will make time to do it are important factors in managing a heavy workload and demanding clients.

Spending time developing these and other performance skills will reap handsome rewards in the long term. Building confidence in yourself will enable you to strengthen your relationships with others, whether colleagues or clients.

Make time for your own performance development in 2020 and explore Central Law Training’s extensive range of online and face-to-face personal skills training.

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