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Skills For Successful Lawyering

There are few things more pleasing to a judge than to see the work of really skilled lawyers. Sometimes the skill is on display in the courtroom. Effective oral arguments and penetrating cross examinations are a pleasure for a judge to behold. Really good lawyers make it look easy, but the ease is only an illusion. Effective courtroom presentations take great skill, often honed over years of practice.

“Judges are not impressed with a lawyer’s grand gestures or the florid verbosity we see on TV or at the movies. What a judge likes about lawyers is that they come to court prepared to harness the facts and the law, and present them in a logical fashion that appeals not so much to the heart as to the mind. Few people, whether judges or jurors, are impressed by the verbal flourish.” Justice Mel Dickstein

Marjorie Shultz and Sheldon Zedeck have identified the following factors that contribute to lawyers' efficiency—

  1. analysis and reasoning;
  2. creativity/innovation;
  3. practical judgment;
  4. researching the law;
  5. passion and engagement;
  6. questioning and interviewing;
  7. influencing and advocating;
  8. writing, speaking,
  9. integrity/honesty;
  10. ability to see the world through the eyes of others;
  11. self-development;
  12. organizing and managing others;
  13. negotiation skills;
  14. networking and business development;
  15. building client relationship including advice and counsel;
  16. organizing and managing own work;
  17. developing relationships;
  18. evaluation/development/mentoring;
  19. problem solving and stress management;
  20. fact finding, diligence and listening;
  21. community involvement and service; and
  22. strategic planning.

A lawyer is a representative of clients, an officer of the legal system and a public citizen having special responsibility for the quality of justice—

  1. As a representative of clients, a lawyer performs various functions.
  2. As a member of a learned profession, a lawyer should cultivate knowledge of the law beyond its use for clients; employ that knowledge in reform of the law and work to strengthen legal education.
  3. As a public citizen, a lawyer should seek improvement of the law, the administration of justice and the quality of service rendered by the legal profession.
  4. As advisor, a lawyer provides a client with an informed understanding of the client's legal rights and obligations and explains their practical implications.
  5. As advocate, a lawyer zealously asserts the client's position under the rules of the adversary system.
  6. As negotiator, a lawyer seeks a result advantageous to the client but consistent with requirements of honest dealing with others.
  7. As intermediary between clients, a lawyer seeks to reconcile their divergent interests as an advisor and, to a limited extent, as a spokesperson for each client.

Effective lawyers are not only skilled intellects, but also excel at questioning and interviewing, communicating and persuading, planning and managing, resolving conflict, entrepreneurship, working with others, and making ethical decisions.“ Marjorie Schultz and Sheldon Zedeck

A lawyer's responsibility as a representative of clients, an officer of the legal system and a public citizen are usually harmonious. Thus, when an opposing party is well represented, a lawyer can be a zealous advocate on behalf of a client and at the same time assume that justice is being done. So also, a lawyer can be sure that preserving client confidences ordinarily serves the public interest because people are more likely to seek legal advice, and thereby heed their legal obligations, when they know their communications will be private.

In the nature of law practice, however, conflicting responsibilities are encountered. Virtually all difficult ethical problems arise from conflict between a lawyer's responsibilities to clients, to the legal system and to the lawyer's own interest in remaining an upright person while earning a satisfactory living. The Rules of Professional Conduct prescribe terms for resolving such conflicts. Within the framework of these rules, many difficult issues of professional discretion can arise. Such issues must be resolved through the exercise of sensitive professional and moral judgment guided by the basic principles underlying the rules.

Lawyer should be competent

In all professional functions, a lawyer should be competent, prompt and diligent. He should maintain communication with a client concerning the representation. He should keep in confidence information relating to representation of a client except so far as disclosure is required or permitted by the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law.

Legal employers and clients desire lawyers who can communicate well, are able to collaborate effectively, are motivated and hard-working, can work independently but know when to ask for guidance, and are able to effectively plan projects.” Marcus & Stanley

The role of competence in law is rather unique since it is not only an attribute important for its practitioners to possess, but is also part of the very cornerstone on which the adversary system of Anglo-American law is based. This is the principle' that if the parties to a dispute are equally represented in a legal forum, the truth will out. The problem is that equal representation is apparently not guaranteed by standards governing admission to the bar, and it is for this reason that the issue of competence represents one of the most important-and troublesome-concerns of the legal profession.1)

About the Author

Adv. Sunil Sharma is a writer for about 25 years and has authored more than 40 books on various subjects including Jurisprudence, Hindu Law and Environmental Laws.

American Bar Association

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Created on 2021/01/17 16:28 by LawPage • Last modified on 2021/01/17 16:30 by LawPage