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More than a lawyer

Hello everyone,

Hope that you're having a great week!

I'm on the way back from London after having made some flying visits to speak to clients and friends of the firm.

It is always great to hit the bricks in the capital and catch up with the great and the good!

Today I want to talk about the value of soft skills - something that has been historically overlooked in the legal industry.
 

 

We're (thankfully) not robots


Over the years I have met thousands of lawyers. So I would say that I am qualified to pass judgment on our industry!

There are clichés about lawyers. That we are stuffy, that we speak in jargon and that we are arrogant.

Every cliché has some level of truth behind it and indeed whilst the legal industry is moving away from the old modes - I have met many professionals who sadly reinforce these stereotypes.

It does make you wonder why - though.

I have a theory...

 

Master of one 


Law is a discipline that takes years to master! 

Every lawyer that you come across has usually spent decades of their time to become as skilled as they are.

It's a silo of skills that includes analytical thinking, rote learning of statutes and legal procedure.

Legal professionals are some of the most trained professionals out there. Fact.

But they're highly trained in what they do - and it would be intellectually dishonest to say that this sometimes does not come at the cost of other skills.

Let's put it this way.

Being the best legal mind in the world doesn't mean that you're also the best manager or best business owner.

These are entirely different areas of competence that many lawyers have historically overlooked until recently.

It's also important to note that when you get really good at something, you rightly become very confident and this can result in overconfidence in other areas! Sound familiar?

 

Trained to win at any cost


You also hear about lawyers whose management style is to litigate against their own team!

These are the kinds of lawyers who you hear horror stories about - the ones that throw books and pick people apart rather than building them up. 

In my view, this says more about the lack of management skills in the lawyer - that they have to lean back on lawyering their own staff - than it does about the staff who are on the receiving end of it.

Just my opinion.

People revert to type - and those lawyers who have been trained to win at any cost can sometimes apply this unnecessarily to their peers.

A lot of benefits can be had here from humility and a willingness to learn management skills - rather than applying lawyering skills to the challenge of leading a team.

 

The dormice


Equally, you have what I call the "dormice", who are professionals who are extremely book smart, but who find it almost impossible to hold a normal conversation with someone!

Again, this is not to be judgmental, as people's competencies come in all different shapes and sizes. But for me, the law is only a fraction of what we do here at Virtuoso Legal.

As important as the technical bit is (and we go out of our way to be on the bleeding edge of that) is also the ability to really connect with clients and understand their commercial goals.

This is about conversation and communication which cuts through the noise and gets straight to what really matters.

When we really get to the nub of what our clients want and achieve it for them, this is the kind of work that is really impactful and meaningful. Its a case of seeing the wood for the trees, and communication is key to that.

 

So what's my point?


So all of this is to say that lawyers are not perfect! (Shocking, I know!)

The good news is that the industry (and its professionals) has become far more aware of its deficiencies - and that legal pros are becoming far more rounded with soft skills.

As there has been a deficit for so long and to such extremes in some cases - I genuinely believe that training legal professionals is equally about "rounding out" the person as it is about getting them skilled with the tools of the law.

This is something that we have always (and sometimes inadvertently) done at Virtuoso Legal, by exposing junior team members to clients and the holistic side of lawyering from the get-go.

It has become something that our clients truly value and - from those who have come through the firm - is clearly an approach that makes a better legal professional when all is said and done.

And our clients agree!

What do you think? Is your industry something that suffers from specialism and a lack of soft skills? I would love to hear from you about this.

As always, if you want to talk IP and protect your big ideas, get in touch. I would love to speak to you.

Have a great weekend!

Liz
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