Developing Soft Skills for Future Lawyers

The future needs a new type of lawyer.

According to the respected legal futurist, Richard Suskind, it’s no longer just enough to teach the old basic skills of lawyering in the new, AI-driven, automated economy. A new type of lawyer is needed who is not only trained in the use of coding and legal technology, but also in skills that AI will not be capable of automating. These include the very “human” capabilities of creativity, empathy, compassion, and emotional intelligence. More and more if you want to practise law you need to become a trusted adviser to your client, you need the ability to listen, to communicate and relate to others to help solve their legal problems. No matter how technology transforms the legal market place, these skills will remain highly prized.

Being a good lawyer requires more than the ability to get the facts, apply the applicable law, analyse and advocate for your client’s position. It needs humanity and compassion. When I say compassion, what I mean is the ability to feel with – the ability to empathise, tapping into our innate desire to help, and taking steps to alleviate suffering. This ability is what transforms a good lawyer into a great lawyer.

For those looking to future proof their careers, building competencies in areas that machines will be unlikely to tackle effectively (i.e. compassion, empathy, negotiation and problem solving) is likely the best recipe for success.

Developing soft skills for future lawyers.

I believe it starts from the inside out! Psychometrically measuring your current soft skills will give you the foundation from which to work. Like any other skill, these abilities can be nurtured and improved with practice. It boils down to the ability to inspire confidence in your clients so that they can trust your advice. Cultivating these traits provides the opportunity to understand the issues and offer practical solutions. Be honest and give your clients all the knowledge and help possible. The stronger the relationship, the more work and referrals you’ll receive.

Compassion is the foundation for good people skills. Without empathy, you cannot put yourself in your client’s shoes or fully understand the issues your client faces. Without compassion, you cannot understand your adversary’s position, anticipate what they will do, and take pre-emptive steps to benefit your client. Without it, you cannot provide the best solutions.

The report from McKinsey Global Institute has highlighted how it thinks a range of jobs based on human skills are likely to be affected by AI and automation. It emphasises the top skill sets workers will need to develop between now and 2030 if they do not want to be left behind. These skills include emotional intelligence, compassion and empathy.

In my workshop, I will address the soft skills needed as well as give lawyers an understanding of where they are at with regards to their own soft skill levels in the legal industry, while also providing developmental guidelines.

Taking the time to develop your soft skills will set you apart as top legal talent and assist you in taking your legal career to the next level. Take the first step today for a better tomorrow.

– by Sonica Mouton
Futurist & Industrial Psychologist

Sonica Mouton is a futurist, industrial psychologist with a particular interest in coaching future skills and developing strategic solutions for a brave new world.

Sonica has specialised experience in leadership and executive development, talent management, coaching and developmental feedback and in the assessment and integration of specific solutions based on the results of psychometric tools developed and created by herself.

Don’t miss Sonica’s workshop on developing soft skills for future lawyers. 

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