What to look for when hiring law professionals
It takes a certain type of person to work in the law profession. Whoever you hire may be responsible for providing legal counsel, drawing up legally-binding documents, and representing clients before tribunals and courts of law. It’s important work.
If you’re hiring for legal positions, you need to make sure you hire people with the right skillset. You must find those with the right combination of education, character, and experience.
Qualities Every Good Lawyer Should Have
Some common desired requirements and competencies for those who work in the law profession include:
Graduating of an Accredited Law School Program
Most lawyers hold a Juris Doctor (JD) degree from an accredited law school. According to the American Bar Association (ABA), there are 203 ABA-approved law schools in the United States. To be accepted, people need to pass the LSAT. The program is intensive and serves as a pre-screening process for those not fit for the profession.
Passing the Bar Examination
Once an individual completes their schooling, they take the bar examination, which determines whether or not a candidate is qualified to practice law in a specific jurisdiction. Passing the bar exam not only looks great on a resume or CV, it demonstrates a practical understanding of the law and opens doors so people can practice law in a particular state as a fully admitted lawyer.
Completing Term of Articles & Eligibility for Law Society Membership
Many areas of the world require prospective lawyers to complete a term of articles (usually 10 months). During that time, they work under the supervision of a qualified lawyer. This allows them to gain first-hand experience while mitigating risk from inexperience.
When the term of articles is successfully completed, people are then called to the bar and admitted to the legal profession as barristers and solicitors. Another prerequisite for employment may be a membership in good standing (or eligibility for membership) with the regional law society.
Sound Judgment, Ethics & Civility
Good lawyers understand the difference between right and wrong and they act accordingly. They’re capable of recognizing and rectifying ethical dilemmas. Adhering to a code of conduct is an attorney’s professional responsibility, helping build trust. After all, lawyers not only serve as representatives of their clients; they represent the legal system as a whole, which is meant to be fair and civil.
The importance of exhibiting good, ethical behavior among lawyers cannot be undervalued. Too often, uncivil behavior in an attempt to gain the “upper hand” in court creeps into litigation. In an attempt to minimize this, candidates for bar admission must satisfy that they are of good moral character.
Logical Reasoning & Analytical Thinking
Critical thinking and reasoning are, of course, important qualities for those working in law. Attorneys must be proficient problem-solvers and capable of distancing themselves from personal feelings that may cloud their judgement. Since so much legal work centers around highly-emotional disputes (for example divorce, wills, and property negotiations), lawyers must be level-headed.
Some of the cognitive components of legal thinking include the ability to:
Interpret legal materials (such as case files and contracts) and deduce how they apply to real-world situations
Break down complicated problems into nuggets of information that can be put into a clear analytical framework
See ambiguity in what most people think is clear
Use inductive and deductive reasoning to draw inferences and make connections between legal authorities
Strong Communication & Persuasion Skills
Attorneys need excellent communication skills—both written and spoken. Language is a fundamental tool of legal professionals. In addition to mastering legal terminology, lawyers write often as part of their job, everything from basic client correspondence to complex legal documents such as resolutions and agreements.
Lawyers negotiate and advocate for clients, lobby for change, and advise corporations on legal matters, so they need to communicate information in clear, concise, and logical terms. Above all, they must be persuasive. They need to be able to evaluate evidence, structure arguments, and persuade an audience (especially a jury or judge) that they are right.
Organization & Attention to Detail
The nature of law necessitates proper documentation and file management. Both physical and digital files must be stored correctly and securely. Cataloging large volumes of data for easy retrieval requires effective organization and attention to detail. Reviewing documents, evidence, and other information also requires these skills. Attorneys and even paralegals must be able to conduct legal research and factual investigation, identifying minute details to build strong cases that will stand up in court.
Technology is being introduced into law firms with great success, changing and modernizing the legal landscape. Whoever you hire should be technologically proficient and willing to keep pace with new tech as it’s developed.
Software can assist in many legal applications such as managing case-related data and hiring well-qualified lawyers. It’s also paperless, helping protect the environment. Just be absolutely sure the technology you choose is secure and trustworthy.
Time Management & Resilience to Stress
Law firms are often stressful environments that involve critical matters and heavy workloads. Lawyers are under constant pressure to bill time because the profession is based on a billable hour business model. If this isn’t stressful enough, in the case of capital punishment trials, lawyer’s jobs are literally a matter of life and death. It takes a special job candidate who has developed the ability to effectively manage their time and stress to take on the work.