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5 skills every lawyer needs in 2021

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Published 01/12/2020

Published 01/12/2020

The skills required of lawyers are endless and complex.

And we’re entering an age where your practical toolkit is more vital than ever. Why? After an eventful 2020, you've probably felt a cool shift happening in the legal sector.

While you already have excellent legal skills, to be a successful legal services provider in 2020 and beyond, you need to continually be adding new skill-feathers into your legal cap. 

With ongoing professional development, you can hone your skillset – or learn a new part of the law entirely. 

From mediation and negotiation to cost law and legal ethics, these 5 skills are must-haves for any lawyer who wants to better service their clients and streamline their practice in 2021.


1. AFFIDAVIT DRAFTING: ‘The whole truth and nothing but the truth’

Do you know how to prepare a concise and persuasive affidavit? 

These legally sworn declarations help to inform quick and clear legal decisions on issues ranging from identity and theft to marriage and debt.

The importance of knowing how to take a witness statement, adhere to procedural requirements and accommodate basic evidentiary issues cannot be understated. 

Whether you’re new to the legal profession or simply seeking to update your expertise, think of this as the bread and butter of your litigation skills picnic.


2. MEDIATION: 'Where there's a will, there's a way'

Every day, more and more lawyers are realising the value of mediation as an invaluable complementary skill across almost all specialisations.  

Compared to litigation, mediation is a quicker, cheaper and less stressful resolution process that helps parties take control of the outcomes and avoid court.

Mediation is especially useful in the areas of family law and wills and estates.  

That said, mediation ties in well with any legal field where disputing parties are negotiating an outcome. So, if you’re looking to expand your offerings and help clients find a less adversarial resolution process, it might be time to add this practical skill to your legal toolkit.


3. COSTS LAW: 'Money, money, money'

Costs law affects every legal practitioner.

Whether it’s managing the client relationship, nailing down what constitutes a valid engagement or deciding what your firm can charge, the issue of costs is integral to all forms of legal practice. 

Drafting fair cost agreements and managing cost disputes ensures the best outcome for all involved.  

Particularly in your foundational years of practice, these are key skills to hone to ensure your professionalism and profitability.


4. LEGAL ETHICS: 'Suspicion and privilege - a tragic love story'

Just like death and taxes, you are certain to encounter some curly situations and suspicious clients at various points in your legal career. 

Unfortunately, ethical dilemmas are impossible to avoid, and the guidelines are often shifting.

Knowing how to identify ‘red flags’ and manage professional skepticism will help you to navigate these grey areas. 

Although balancing your obligations to your client and the law is never easy, you can take steps to improve your skills in legal ethics – and protect your reputation in the process.


5. NEGOTIATION: 'My way or the highway'

Skillful negotiation is an essential part of every lawyer’s arsenal. 

From crafting adaptable strategies, working through deadlocks and managing conflict, the art of negotiation is multifaceted. 

Your ultimate goal is to arrive at the most beneficial compromise for your client. This means building rapport, collecting information, gaining leverage and controlling the agenda – placing your client on a solid path to success. 

And who wouldn’t want that?

Are you looking to become a more practical practitioner in 2021?




Video or Podcast: New World, New Lawyers - how are capabilities "shaping" up? (Centre for Legal Innovation)

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