5 key skills they don't teach you in law school
12th February 2018 by Fiona Hotston Moore
The biggest challenge for all professionals (not just lawyers) is how to convert your technical expertise into profit on the bottom line. Delivering an excellent technical report is not enough if the client is not willing to pay an appropriate fee for your time. The ability to think commercially in terms of how you market your expertise, deliver the service and charge and collect the bills will determine your own value to your firm.
People buy people
Whatever your marketing team say, people ultimately buy people. Your personal brand is the key to your success as a lawyer. You need to invest time from the start of your career as a trainee solicitor in building that brand. Your brand must be authentic, reflect your values and be relevant to your clients. As you become more senior you need to develop that brand to market your technical expertise. If you can build your personal brand effectively you will ensure that the client wants you and isn’t going to be simply driven by cost.
The world is now moving very fast. In my own professional career I have seen the invention of the worldwide web (1989), the launch of the first mobile phone (Motorola 1975) and the first battery operated laptops (late 1980’s). We cannot predict how artificial intelligence will change the delivery of professional services. To succeed and add the most value to your practice you have to be constantly evolving and finding ways to improve the service you deliver.
Provision of excellent client service is key to ensure you stand out from the field of suits. Your technical expertise is a given. How you deliver that service is what brings clients back to you again and again. Furthermore, happy clients will provide referrals to new clients so don’t be afraid to ask for introductions.
Balance your priorities and don’t be the “busy fool”
It’s important to develop a habit whereby every day you do some proactive activities and not just reactive work. Reactive activities include the delivery of existing client work and tasks delegated by your boss. Proactive activities include business development, investment in developing innovative approaches, relationship building and activities that build your personal brand and value. An effective future partner is someone who effectively delegates the reactive tasks to their team providing the ‘space’ to enable them to build the practice through proactive activity.
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