This section examines six basic personal and intellectual qualities that help make a successful lawyer. Although these qualities are more realistic than many popular perceptions of the legal profession, they will not be equally important for every individual.
The field of law, beginning with law school, requires considerable personal motivation. While some see a law career as an opportunity to uphold or change social and government institutions, others are driven by financial gain, the prestige of working at a certain law firm, or involvement in high-profile cases. Whatever the goal, anyone thinking of a legal career should have the tenacity to see things through.
Success as a lawyer is usually a result of years of hard work. Although the common view of a legal career emphasizes its financial rewards, the economics of hourly billing favors those who are most productive, especially during the early stages their careers.
Lawyers must use rigorous logic to determine the best course of action for their clients. To do so, they must look at problems in terms of the fundamental facts and eliminate irrelevant details. This often demands ingenuity, sound reasoning, and the ability to analyze large amounts of information.
Because lawyers are paid to anticipate clients’ problems, much of their work involves taking the appropriate steps to avoid future liabilities. This is one reason for the highly technical nature of most legal documents. To function in this environment, lawyers must be highly knowledgeable of the legal system’s complex rules and procedures.
To be effective, a lawyer must possess excellent communication skills. This includes a high level of verbal competence as well as the ability to produce written documents that meet rigorous technical and logical standards.
The legal profession has rules of conduct that greatly influence a lawyer’s decisions. These rules affect a broad range of activities regarding matters of principle as well as professional ethics. Because of this, lawyers must continuously ensure that their actions adhere to these rules. Anyone interested in a career in law should be aware of the ethical and professional standards that will inevitably affect their future.
To supplement this list, it would be useful to speak to a pre-law advisor at your local university. You should also consult as many law students and working lawyers as possible in order to develop an accurate understanding of the profession.