Why being a good lawyer means being a good business person

23 May 2016
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With qualification comes responsibility. Good lawyers need technical skills but they also a variety of business skills that will evolve with your career. We've listed a few of the most important ones here.

Business development and networking

Although firms don’t expect their trainees and junior lawyers to engage in a large amount of business development activity, an appreciation of how valuable this is to the law firm is a must. A good starting point is by creating a Linkedin profile from which you can build your connections in a professional way. Connect with people that you have met and built an initial report with by sending them a personal message. An excellent way to demonstrate your commitment to business development is to attend industry events that are relevant to your clients and these will provide you with networking opportunities. If you identify a potential client but you are not the best person to take the meeting, ask the potential client if they are happy for you to pass on their details to your colleague. To develop your skill set take our business development and networking course.

Cross selling

Once you've qualified into a team it’s understandable that your main focus will be within that team. but it’s wise to stay familiar with the work of other departments so you don’t miss an opportunity to cross sell. For example, if you work in the family department and your client mentions they’re going to be selling their house, you can refer them to someone in your residential property department. It might not be additional work for your team, but it’s work for the firm, and that will be recognised. Take time to keep up-to-date with what other departments are up to; you may for example be able to attend an internal strategy meeting or take someone from the team out for a coffee from time to time!

Project management

Project management skills are essential in any business. If you demonstrate your ability to both contribute your opinions and follow instructions, you may have the opportunity to manage a project yourself. This will require a combination of planning, organisation, and resource-management to achieve a set of objectives on time and on budget. The more of these skills you can master, the better. Take one of our  management and leadership training courses to help you do just that.

Financial literacy

You may have thought you’d left maths behind, but it’s very important to be financially astute as a lawyer. Once qualified, you’ll be expected to put quotes together for client work, forecast your fee income, perform work to relevant budgets, and assess when financial parameters need to be moved. If you also have a good understanding of tax and accounting principles that can be beneficial both for your firm and also for your clients. To gain confidence with figures, take our financial literacy course.

Time management

Now that you’re classified as a fee-earner you’ll need to be able to complete your work on time and on budget. Being aware of the time you take to deliver is imperative and you’ll be expected to account for every six minutes of your time (though time for administration and other essentials are allowed for!) When your workload increases it’s also important to prioritise your tasks in a way that means you hit all your deadlines - without getting stressed! Our time and stress management course can help with this.

Negotiation

Negotiation is a key skill for any lawyer. You’ll use it in a variety of situations, from critical ones like pitching for a new client or closing a settlement deal, to smaller more every-day ones like emailing or calling an opposing solicitor to persuade them to have their client accept an offer. The way you prepare for and manage those situations will be an important factor when it comes to your future career development. To learn the correct theories, styles, and skills take our negotiation skills course. 

If you’d like to speak to one of the team about any of the courses listed here, please give us a ring on +44(0)2920 451 000 or email altior@kaplan.co.uk.