What Makes a Good Lawyer? Ethics, Morals, and Empathy

What Makes a Good Lawyer? Ethics, Morals, and Empathy

Are you wondering what makes a good lawyer, and what rules must be followed to maintain such a prominent career? Find all your questions answered, right here…

Being a good lawyer takes a lot of hard work, determination, and grit. Not only does a solicitor require a certain number of attributes to be fit for the role, there are certain rules and regulations to follow too. This way, not only can you be the best at what you do, you can also avoid a solicitor disciplinary tribunal along the way.

Whether you’re looking to pursue a career in law, or are currently in the job and are a little disenchanted, this article is for you. It should help you to understand if this is the job for you, and whether you might be on the wrong path.

Legal representation

What Makes a Good Lawyer?

Although you might think that what makes a great lawyer is intelligence and following the rules, there’s more to it than that. Being a good lawyer takes a certain type of person; someone with specific characteristics which will make them the best at what they do. So, what exactly are these characteristics, and do you have them?

1. Good Communication Skills

First and foremost, a lawyer needs to have good communication skills, both orally and written. These days, solicitors will deal with clients over email and phone, so it’s important to be able to convey key pieces of information using these methods.

What’s more, if a case ends up in the courtroom, having these skills is paramount to ensure you have the best chance of winning a case. It’s all down to being succinct, to the point, and having the ability to command a room when speaking.

2. Good at Public Speaking

Falling into the communication category is the ability to speak publicly. You need to be able to keep the focus of everyone in the room on you, and have authority in what you’re saying. Without this, you’re unlikely to harness confidence from those around you.

3. Attention to Detail

Not only does a lawyer have the job of communicating the facts and evidence of a case, they need to build this case from the ground up. This requires a lot of critical thinking to be able to spot any gaps in the argument.

This is the case both outside the courtroom and within the courtroom; you need to be able to listen and react to what’s being said by everyone, without question.

4. Able to Think on Your Feet

This takes us nicely onto our next point; thinking on your feet. Before going into the courtroom, you’re unlikely to know every curveball the opposition has up their sleeve. So, you need to be able to think quickly, and act on these thoughts, to steer the court in your favour.

5. Passion for Helping People

One key quality of becoming a good solicitor is the passion and drive to help people. The role requires you to be empathetic, listen, and care for your clients.

Without this quality, you’re unlikely to muster up the energy to create a solid, water-tight case. After all, being passionate about a job is one of the key cornerstones in being the best at what you do.

Hiring a good lawyer

6. Being a People Person

With this in mind, it might also serve you well if you’re a people person. Not only do you have to be able to command a room full of jurors, as well as the magistrate, there’s more to it than this. Ultimately, your main role throughout should be to understand your client’s needs and emotions, and build their trust in you from start to finish.

7. Great Knowledge

In order to piece together your cases, and to maintain a voice within the courtroom, you need to have knowledge in the area of law you work on. To do this, you must be in the know about all the laws involved, and any changes that are happening as the years go by. This way, you can ensure your cases are water-tight, and your clients have faith in your abilities.

8. Creativity

Although it might seem as though being a solicitor is all about being serious, this isn’t always the case. In fact, having a little bit of creativity is a great quality to have. This way, you can start to see different avenues of arguments, and try to work the case as best as possible to the situation.

9. Good Judgement and Decision-Making Skills

Being able to judge a situation and make quick decisions on the spot is a very valuable quality to have. This way, you can make snap decisions in the courtroom, but also be able to judge the situation before it even gets to this stage. After all, some cases simply aren’t worth pursuing, so it’s about taking the deal that’s right for everyone.

10. Be Prepared to Question Your Morals

As a solicitor, especially one who deals with criminals, you may have to put aside your morals in order to be ethical. After all, client confidentiality and attempting to win the case are key parts of being a lawyer, even if you are sure your client has broken the law. It’s a heavy burden to bear, so you must be prepared for this.

11. Perseverance

Our final key quality for a good solicitor to have up their sleeve is perseverance. No lawyer, no matter how good, will be able to win every case and succeed all the time. Being able to pick yourself up and brush yourself off after these losses is extremely important.

Solicitor's office

5 Top Tips on How to Be a Good Solicitor

If becoming a lawyer is your passion, but you feel you don’t necessarily have all the characteristics listed above, don’t worry! There are some key elements of being a solicitor that you can harness that’ll help you on your career journey…

1. Stay Up to Date with Relevant News

As we’ve seen, knowledge is key to being a good lawyer. This will not only help you to do your job well, but to build trust around you. Be it clients or magistrates, they’re much more likely to heed your words if you are well-read and know what you’re talking about.

So, always be sure to keep on top of the latest news in your field. What’s more, read up on past cases as much as possible, and always keep your head in a book when you can. This sort of research and industry knowledge will help you massively.

2. Organise Yourself

Maintaining organisation throughout your work is key for you to keep a clear ahead. To do this, be sure to keep a schedule, write a daily to-do list, and plan ahead. This way, you’re much more likely to remain calm when dealing with clients, and keep your wits about you for all your cases.

3. Practice Your Speaking Skills in the Mirror

Not everyone has the ability to speak publicly with ease. Although this is certainly a good personality trait to have naturally, it’s something you can teach yourself to be good at.

The element of it all that scares most people about public speaking is freezing up. So, every time you need to speak in front of people, write a script and practice it in front of a mirror, friend, or family member. This preparation and practice will make you a pro in no time.

4. Do Puzzles in Your Spare Time

We’ve talked about how a solicitor must be able to have good judgment, be able to think on their feet, and have good critical analysis skills. Well, a great way to train your brain with these skills is to do puzzles often, like Sudoku or logic puzzles. Although it might seem strange, this practice will keep your brain ready for the next challenge.

5. Follow the Rules and Regulations

We’ve already talked about client confidentiality, which is a massive part of being a good and lawful solicitor. But, there are also a lot of rules and regulations to follow which will help you to be a good lawyer within the boundaries of the role.

For example, you must abide by the principals and standards of ethical behaviour, including acting:

  • To uphold the constitutional principle of the rule of law;
  • To uphold the proper administration of justice;
  • To uphold public trust and confidence in solicitors and the legal profession;
  • With independence, honesty, and integrity.
  • To encourage equality, diversity and inclusion.
  • In the best interests of every client.

A solicitor must also abide by the code of conduct, which covers the issues of misusing or tampering with evidence, not wasting the court’s time, and so much more. For more details on all this, the SRA website is the place to go.

Lawyer's service quality

What Happens If You Aren’t Doing Your Job Well?

As you can see, being a lawyer takes both strength of character, as well as passion, intelligence and aptitude. Above all, though, it’s extremely important that an upstanding solicitor abides by the rules and regulations expected of them.

Not only would it be completely unethical not to, it will likely lead to a tribunal to get to the bottom of it all. This could potentially lead to you being disbarred, and unable to continue working in the profession you love.

The question is, do you have the traits above, and are willing to pursue law as a career? Only you can decide, so we wish you luck on your career path.

Photo credit: August de Richelieu / Pexels

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