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What Communication Skills Do Lawyers Need?

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Beth Kennedy Profile
Beth Kennedy answered
To be a lawyer, there are several communication skills that must be developed in order to be successful. Communication skills are needed to maintain and develop trust between lawyers and clients and also lawyers and colleagues. The key elements for good communication skills for lawyers include:

  • Verbal communication
  • Good listening
  • Persuasion
Verbal communication is essential in maintaining a good rapport with colleagues and clients. Using E-mail is fine, but when bad news needs to be delivered it is best to do it face-to-face. It is important to speak with colleagues and clients in person as it is easier to read the emotions and intentions of a person. Honest and prompt communication can be completed through using a telephone to contact clients. They will appreciate this greatly, even if the news is bad! With good communication it is essential not to talk too much. This leads us to the next aspect of good communication- good listening.

Good listening is an invaluable factor for successful and efficient communication. When clients and colleagues feel like you are really listening to them they will open up and begin to trust you. Listening can help deepen the understanding of the client's situation. This means the lawyer can work to the best of his or her ability when handling a case. The key to  being a good listener includes: Not interrupting, avoiding the rehearsing of answers when the other person is communicating, not worrying about controlling the conversation and ensuring you are comfortable listening to your clients feelings.

Persuasion is a characteristic all lawyers must possess in order to be successful at negotiating, arguing, hiring staff and responding to a client  proposal. Important discussion must be conducted when you feel at your most confident. If you are calm, prepared and detached you will be more persuasive. Do not let emotions get in the way.
James Guillen Profile
James Guillen answered

The legal industry is hard to picture without effective communication. It only makes sense that lawyers and legal practitioners have the ability to communicate before an audience, a client, or a judge. Lawyers not only have excellent communication skills but also the right level of confidence that enables them to maintain gracefulness even under pressure, the confidence that allows them to look beyond the pressures and issues of the present circumstances and focus on driving the argument and proving a point during a negotiation.

Lawyers communicate on a daily basis. They communicate with fellow lawyers, bosses, secretaries, representatives from other firms, but most of all, lawyers communicate with their clients. Some say that effective communication is acquired through years of experience and while it is true that one of the benefits one gains while practicing law is becoming more and more of a natural speaker, it is also true that communication skills can be learned strategically. Given the right resources, trainers, and learning environment, lawyers can speed up the process of learning new communication skills.

There are several areas of communication. There’s written communication which is learned and developed through reading and writing. Then there’s also verbal communication which is an umbrella term that covers many other subfields like giving professional legal counsel and persuasion.

Verbal communication is learned gradually. One gets better at it the more he/she practices verbal communication and for lawyers who never run out of opportunities to speak, they harness and sharpen their verbal communication skills much faster. That’s one of the reasons why lawyers seem to have that air of confidence and credibility: They communicate well.

But there’s another area of communication that some lawyers still can’t seem to fully grasp and that is communication with the media. Believe it or not, there are many lawyers that do a really great job communicating with a client, speaking before a judge, and even presenting an argument in front of a jury; but when it comes to speaking before a reporter, an interviewer, or any representative from the media, they often shrink back in fear or lack of confidence.

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