What Does It Really Take To Become A Good Lawyer

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So, primarily what it takes to become a lawyer is... a law degree. You have to study, get your degree, pass the bar, and all that other good stuff. That's just a given. But once you've made it to the big leagues, how do you separate yourself from the rest of the pack? How do you go from a good lawyer to a great one? Here are a few skills and qualities that you should work on if you want to become a great lawyer and really succeed in the industry. 

If you're going to be a good lawyer, then good communication skills are a must. You don't just need to be able to dig through case law and come up with strong arguments, but you also need to express those arguments clearly and eloquently. This means clear, concise writing for your legal documents, and persuasive public speaking in front of judges and juries. You need to be convincing, easy to understand, and likable enough that you don't detract from the strength of what you are saying. This is also a two-way street! You need to be able to listen just as often as you argue, so you can understand and analyze what your clients are telling you. 

Speaking of which, analysis is a skill all its own and is equally vital for a successful lawyer. An attorney's job often involves taking in large amounts of information, much of it irrelevant. It is up to you to be able to survey what you are reading or hearing, figure out what's relevant, and make it a part of your argument or case. That's not always easy to do, and it can be extremely time- consuming if you're not confident in your analytical abilities. This also applies to your time in court, not just when you're researching. Being able to analyze your opponent’s case quickly and effectively is a must if you are going to fight for your client. 

A good attorney also needs to have great people skills. This is true of many professions, but especially law. Networking is always going to be the best way to get the cases and positions that you want for yourself and is often the only way to get ahead in your career. You will also need good people skills just to do your job. Remember that you're going to be dealing with people all day every day - clients, judges, juries, other lawyers. Being able to successfully read people and negotiate is key for a lawyer and is something every would-be attorney should be practicing. 

There are some really good interviews with some great lawyers including Eliot M. Houman of The Accident Guys in California and Stefano Portigliatti of Coker Law in Florida. 

Ultimately, all of these skills are going to provide an excellent base for your law career, but there is one more quality that can really set you apart from your peers - creativity. This is what can take you from being a good lawyer to a really great one. The top attorneys are always analyzing problems and solving them in new and creative ways, finding solutions that weren't obvious to anyone else. This can help you find a new compromise in a negotiation, come up with a fresh argument, or even just throw your opponents for a loop in court. Keep in mind that the first or most obvious solution isn't always the best one, and allow yourself to think outside the box. If you are confident in your own skills, you might be amazed at what you can come up with as a top attorney or a leading lawyer!

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