How to become a successful lawyer: The legal profession is one of the most prestigious professions in the world. This is obviously why people respect and love lawyers so much. Historically, law was formerly meant for only wealthy people because the cost of training a student to become a lawyer was very expensive.
Qualities of A Good lawyer
1. Consistency / Diligence: One of the qualities of a good lawyer is diligence. Diligence is the combination of hard work and consistency. To become a successful lawyer, you must not lack this quality because it takes time for a young lawyer to be noticed.
No doubt, this is just the nature of the profession. In most countries, before a lawyer will be will be promoted to a higher level (That is an attorney, senior advocate etc), he/she must have worked for several years as an active legal practitioner in the country.
So you see, the profession is not for people who want to become successful over night. It takes only a person who is consistent and hard working to become a successful lawyer.
2. Hard work: Hard work is another prerequisite quality every lawyer must cultivate. Law is not a course for indolent people. As a lawyer, you must develop the habit of working hard. This is obviously the reason why an Indian Judge said that “the success of a lawyer depends upon himself”. What this simply means is that the amount of effort you put into the profession will determine your success in the procession.
As a litigator or an advocate, research is one of the difficult things you must do to win your arguments. Even if you decide to go into corporate law, you can still not run away from hard work. In fact, what differentiates a good lawyer from a bad lawyer is the level of hard work they put into their profession.
I am sure you have heard the popular saying that “language is the major tool of a lawyer”. There is no gainsaying the communication skill is a must-have skill for every lawyer. Frankly speaking, the way you communicate as a lawyer will go a long way to tell what you are capable of doing.
Today, clients are more concerned about the kind of grammar their lawyers use when talking to them. They tend to accept the service of a lawyer that relate more closely with them, than the once that just tell them the position of the law facially.
4. Ability to articulate thoughts clearly: Sachin Daga, one of the most influential Indian lawyer made a statement when he was interviewed. He said that “law is nothing but common sense”. Going further, Sachin Daga said that a good lawyer must be able to articulate thought very clearly. This is what will help him to make good and valid arguments in the court of law.
One of the reasons why most lawyers lose their cases in the court is not because their position is absolutely wrong but because, even the judge is unable to understand their line of argument.
As a lawyer, your ability of think laterally and quickly will go a long way to determine your success in the profession. I therefore enjoin you to start learning how to argue coherently today. No doubt, it is one of the essential things you need as a lawyer.
5. Anticipate: It will be difficult or even impossible to be a good lawyer without the ability to anticipate what the judge in any case/circumstance will decide. The ability of a lawyer to anticipate what his opposing counsel will argue in court will help him to counter those arguments before they are even presented to the counsel.
The importance of your ability to anticipate as a lawyer cannot be overemphasized. In fact, some countries have entrenched some courses into the curriculum of law students to help them develop the ability to anticipate. For instance, in Nigeria, there is a course called “Legal reasoning” in Nigeria Law School. It is a “must” for every law student there. This confirms the fact that a lawyer must not lack the ability to anticipate the argument of his fellow lawyer or the judgment of the judge. Indeed, it is very pertinent to be a successful lawyer.
6. Lifelong learning: Have you ever wondered why lawyers are called practicing lawyers? The rationale behind this is that, there is no stage at which a lawyer will be said to have reached the apex of learning in his profession. Law is dynamic.
Anytime a case is brought to the court, it is either the law will be applied immediately or the judge will make a law himself (case law) to make sure that justice is done. This is why a lawyer must be ready to learn throughout his life. He must be ready to read every day. He must fortify himself with all the recent legal trends in the country he is practicing.
In “Turning point of my life”, Feli S. Nariman said that whether he has a case or not, he always come to court to learn new things. Here, Nariman clearly expressed the fact that law is a profession where learning will never end.
Now that I have highlighted the skills required to be a good lawyer, I will now typify the tips you will need to become a successful lawyer. Note that this article is not made for any particular country. So whether you are from India, America, Britain, Ghana or Nigeria, there is absolutely no problem following these tips.
How To Become A Successful Lawyer
1. Build trust with clients:
There is probably no way you can become a successful lawyer without building trust with your clients. Just like I have said before, one of the things that will contribute to your success as a lawyer is the way you relate with your clients; the way you communicate will them and your truthfulness when dealing with them.
When someone comes to you as a lawyer, what that person wants from you is the truth. By coming to you, people believe that you know the law and you can tell them whether the law is on their side or not.
So to make your clients trust you, you must always tell them the truth. It does not matter whether the law is against them. Just make sure you tell them the position of the law first. After that, you can then give them hope by telling them how you intend to litigate on their behalf. That way, you will be able to build trust with your clients.
2. Choose your clients wisely:
If you really want to become a successful lawyer, you have to first of all, decide not to be a cheap lawyer. It is only a cheap lawyer that will accept any case that comes on his/her way. A lawyer who accepts any case just to earn more money will find it difficult to succeed in the legal profession because; the reputation of that lawyer will decline as time goes on.
This is one secret in the legal profession that many lawyers don’t know. Law is all about connection and networking. The way you choose the clients you represent in court, will determine whether your client will want to connect you with another friend who need the service of a lawyer. It will also make judges respect you anytime you are in court.
3. Network with other lawyers:
After you are called to the bar, you are not going to get clients by sitting at home. You have to go out and network with other lawyers because that is how others will get to know what you are capable of doing.
No matter how good you are, you cannot succeed in the legal profession if you do not network with others. My lecturer, Dr. Nnamuchi will always say that “the person that will help you tomorrow as a lawyer is your classmate. So, make sure you network with everyone”.
What many lawyers don’t know even till toady is that, grade is not the only thing required to become a successful lawyer. In fact, grade is not even up to 50% of what a lawyer needs to become a successful lawyer. Trust me; after you are called to the bar, it is your ability to network with others that will determine your success in the legal profession.
4. Have a goal: Aside from the fact that you need a goal to become successful in the legal profession, a fool is also important in every profession. One of the most successful men in Africa once said that “it is the goal of a person that determines his success of failure in Life”. This means that great goals are essential for success in any field of study.
Without a goal, you will continue to be an indigent lawyer for ever. It is your goal that will determine the level of hard work you are supposed to put into your career.
So if my goal is a foster justice in my country (Nigeria) as a Senior Advocate, I will work hard to become a senior advocate and will use my vast knowledge of the law to foster justice in my country.
5. Keep up with Legal Trends: If you have passed through all the legal education required to become a lawyer in your country then you should be aware that one of the characteristics of law is its dynamic nature. Law is not static; it changes from time to time. Consequent upon this, it is necessary to always keep up with legal trends to survive in the profession.
A lawyer who is not up to date with legal trends is a deed lawyer and he/she cannot represent his clients properly in court. Keeping up with trends helps you to know the latest court precedence to follow when defending your case. It also helps you to know those areas of law that has been amended and are no longer in force.
To stay updated as a lawyer, you are required to read court Judgements daily and political and legal news in your country. This will widen your knowledge on the things you already know and the things that are applicable in your jurisdiction of practice.
6. Be innovative: By now, you must have known that law is dynamic and not static. It takes only a person who is innovative to succeed in the profession.
What I mean is that, you need to be very innovative of do well in the legal profession. If you check history, you will find out that some of the lawyer/judges we celebrate today were not people who were bent on following the law strictly. They were mostly people who contributed greatly to the legal profession though their inventiveness.
You if you really want to become a successful lawyer, you must be innovative. Think about how you can add to the profession. By doing this, you will be highly recognized in the profession.
7. Use your time wisely:
To become a successful lawyer, you must learn to use your time wisely. Time is the most precious gift a lawyer has. If you are unable to manage your time very well, you will find it difficult to do excellently well in the legal profession.
Sometimes, you might have about 3 -5 cases to handle in just few months. During that few months, you will have to research on those cases very well. So you see, you really need to learn time management. It is indeed one of the most important tips you need to become a successful lawyer.
8. Find a mentor: If you are just new in the bar, then you will need a mentor to start with. Just like I said before, law is all about networking and connection. Clients are not going to know you just like that. Someone has to tell them about your qualifications in the legal profession; and that is how a mentor can help you become successful. More so, by having a mentor you will learn a lot about the practical aspect of law.
The reason why most lawyers find it difficult to do well in the legal profession is because they are callow. No doubt, experience is one of the essentials of a good lawyer too. Law is not always as it is in theory, so it is important you get a mentor who will always guide you in achieving your goals.
9. Enjoy the profession and work hard:
Honestly speaking, if you don’t enjoy the stress and hard work in the legal profession, you will find it difficult to become a successful lawyer. Suffice it to say that lawyers are respected not because they are lawyers, but because of their hard work and integrity.
So, you cannot even coup with the profession if you don’t enjoy what lawyers do. By using the word “enjoy”, I mean you should be happy and proud of being a member of one of the most respected professions in the world.
Remember, if you take pleasure in what you do, no matter how difficult that thing is, you will always find it easy and fascinating. So, if you must become a successful lawyer, you must develop penchant for the legal profession.
10. Learn and Understand Conflict Resolution: Ordinarily, conflicts abounds in every society as there are different mindset and the way in which a person views things differs from another.
This implies that in some cases, people do not always agree with one another and in those cases where the disagreements concern leaders, such leaders need to step in to resolve the conflictual situations which arose among their followers or team members in order to hamper them from escalating. It is evident that the ability of a lawyer to resolve sophisticated conflicts makes him a good and competent lawyer as to that regard. This is a quality because it has enabled him to approach the conflict wisely and judiciously.