A lawyer’s communication skills are their most valuable asset. Effective communication is a large part of being a lawyer and understanding your client’s needs.
From your first job interview to daily courtroom arguments, a lawyer needs to be quick with his tongue.
You also need to communicate well with clients not only to build confidence in your services but also to understand their requirements clearly.
Lawyers also need to build up their professional network if they intend to practice law. A strong professional network is the bread and butter of any lawyer since that is how they get work.
If you’re new to the profession or still in law school, there is still time to build up your communication skills.
These communication skills – combined with your expertise in law – will help you not only do your work more effectively but also build a name for yourself in the long run.
1. Send Clear And Concise Emails
In addition to regular calls with clients (if you’re a transactional lawyer) or regularly speaking in courtrooms (if you’re a trial lawyer), you’ll be expected to send many emails.
These emails will usually be short – however, it is important that you take the time to polish your email skills.
Communicating effectively through email is an art, and the only way you get better is through practice. The more you get used to sending emails, the better you will get at them.
The best way to send professional emails is to sound thankful and appreciative. If you can master these two tones with every email that you send to your clients, you will be doing well.
Also, do not obfuscate the point of your emails with complex language or legalese of any kind. Communicating with non-lawyers is very different from communicating with lawyers.
When you’re sending emails to clients, make sure that your emails are written in a corporate professional’s language. Your emails should be as short as possible, and you should get straight to the point.
However, after you’ve finished writing the body of your email, be sure to thank them.
2. Speak Professionally
Emails are just one aspect of communicating professionally. The rest of the time, you will be speaking.
Whether you’re speaking to your colleagues in the office or getting on calls with your clients, you need to use the art of speech to sound like you know your stuff.
The professional tone evolved for a reason. Clients needed to be reassured that service providers could handle the job.
So, what does speaking professionally mean? It means that you speak in a formal and friendly tone, regardless of the context or what you’re speaking about.
You need to sound friendly to be approachable and make the client feel comfortable, but you also need to be formal enough to sound like you take yourself and your job seriously.
Most lawyers learn how to speak professionally from their seniors. Talking to knowledgeable senior members will help prepare you for the times when you have to face clients on your own.
For example, if you’re an assistant general counsel, then observe how the general counsel speaks.
3. Practice Speaking In Public
Public speaking is a large part of being a lawyer, especially if you’re a trial lawyer but also if you practice transactional law.
Trial lawyers need to get up in court day after day and defend their clients or prosecute their opponents. They need to learn the art of spontaneous communication if they want to win their cases.
Highly competent trial lawyers are hired for their ability to speak and react quickly in every situation. They need to convince judge and jury that their client is in the right and his pleadings should be accepted.
This is why practicing to speak in public is essential for a lawyer. Every law aspirant feels like they could never stand up in court and be lucid, let alone eloquent. However, with a bit of practice, you definitely can.
Speaking in public is an acquired skill. It’s not just about talent. The more you practice spontaneous and professional speech, the better you will get at it.
4. Observe Your Body Language
Body language cues are also important for a lawyer. Depending on the situation, you need to be able to adjust your body language appropriately.
You should not use the same body language when you’re cross-examining a witness as you would with the judge. You must instinctively change your body language at a moment’s notice.
Don’t be under the impression that body language does not count for much. If you want to be a highly successful lawyer, you need to know how to use your body to communicate effectively.
5. Speak Precisely
As a lawyer, you will be asked your opinion on a thousand legal issues. When you’re asked to do so, you need to be able to lay out the exact legal standing without confusing the listener.
Speaking precisely will help you ensure that you’ve related the law as well and as quickly as possible. Moreover, it will help you give practical advice that’s still in alignment with client-care skills.
Being precise is a measure of a lawyer’s worth. If you can say exactly what you mean, then you’ll be fields ahead of most of the lawyers out there.
6. Be Friendly
Finally, don’t forget to be friendly in your efforts to conquer the legal world. A lawyer needs to have many friends, so ensure that you’re approachable and people like to bring their problems to you.
Being friendly is not just a matter of building up your network; it is simply good professional practice. It makes you easier and more pleasant to work with and work for, which would drive better results in the long run.
Communicating effectively is what separates a good lawyer from a great one. If you cannot just know the law but also effectively communicate the law, you’re well on your way to glory in the legal field.
If you’re looking for legal jobs with high responsibility, such as working in the office of general counsel, then polishing your communication skills is the first step towards that.