The 9 Essential Solicitor Skills

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 23 September 2022 | Published 19 July 2021

Updated 23 September 2022

Published 19 July 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

For those with an interest in law and helping legal clients know their rights, becoming a solicitor could be an excellent career choice. Solicitors have an important role in providing legal advice to their clients, and they use a variety of hard and soft skills to assist individuals and organisations in making significant legal decisions. Before pursuing a career as a solicitor, it is important to know what skills these professionals use to excel in their work. In this article, we define what solicitor skills are, including hard and soft skills, and we identify what qualities solicitors need for a successful career.

What is a solicitor?

A solicitor is a professional lawyer who provides legal help to clients, informing them of their rights. In addition, they may also offer individual legal advice. Having studied law and being qualified to practise it, a solicitor can act on behalf of individuals or organisations. With the specific set of skills they possess, solicitors can also represent the interests of their clients before a judge in court.

Related: What does a solicitor do? (Legal specialisms explained)

What are solicitor skills?

Solicitor skills are the abilities that legal professionals use to succeed in their daily responsibilities. A solicitor typically uses both soft and hard skills in their work. Here are some considerations for the skills that solicitors use:

Soft skills

A solicitor's work is rigorous, demanding and must show intelligence and the ability to absorb and analyse complex material. Some examples of soft skills that solicitors use include analytical and logical skills, the ability to communicate and write and good attention to detail. However, you need more than this to claim success.

Related: 10 Valuable Soft Skills You Need To Succeed in Your Career

Hard skills

In addition to soft skills, solicitors use hard skills that include specific legal knowledge and the ability to present in court. Knowledge of the law, presence in courtrooms, or integrity are not simply skills but the information gained during training and constant updating or essential aspects of your character.

Likewise, the ability to innovate is an attitude and a willingness to think and act differently. Finally, commercial awareness is essential if you wish to excel in this field. While these gained skills continue to be fundamental, they make up only half of the set needed to practice the legal profession effectively and competitively.

Related: What Are Hard Skills and Soft Skills?

Qualities of successful solicitors

Working in the legal field requires considerable skills and attributes. As a solicitor, you give your clients the best possible advice to maintain the firm's standards. Qualities like respect, the ability to listen and put people at ease are invaluable skills, not to mention building a trusting working relationship with your clients. Other skills that solicitors require include strong communication abilities, organisational skills, competence when working under pressure and commercial awareness. Here are some qualities of effective solicitors:

Commercial awareness

Many legal recruiters claim that commercial awareness is one of the most important traits a candidate can have. This means being informed and updated about current developments in all fields, especially those regarding matters that can affect the firm and its clients.

As a solicitor, you need to understand your client's business and what economic and political issues would affect them. Pursuing resources that help you stay up to date on social, political and economic changes can inform your practice so you can give your clients the best advice based on current cultural circumstances. Here are some tips to improve commercial awareness:

  • Read business pages of a daily newspaper: Getting accurate information shows your commitment to understanding the world. Reading allows you to remain knowledgeable about current events, delve into them and choose how to respond.

  • Use resources like specialised websites: Familiarising yourself with specialised websites can provide you with important knowledge. Legal sites can convey professionalism, inform you about legal services, and allow maximum interaction with your interlocutors with clear and immediate messages.

Related: What is commercial awareness?

Teamwork

Working as part of a team is crucial for growth and success. Therefore, many law firms value solicitors who are team players. Working well in a team is much more than working in a complex system. It is about the process and outcome of your goal. Collaborative lawyers can identify and bring out the best in people to achieve an optimal result. All staff members have a delicate role in circulating information within a working group. For example, all members of a team have a responsibility for bringing motivation, knowledge, fellowship and clarity.

Related: Team Player: Definition and Examples

Communication

Strong oral and written communication skills are fundamental to delivering and receiving information. However, you must not overlook listening skills. As a solicitor, you need to build a strong relationship with your client. Therefore, your client needs to know that you are listening to their concerns and expectations. Here are some tips to help you develop your communication skills:

  • Speaking confidently: Being a confident speaker can help you stand out from the crowd. To speak with confidence, practise using clear, concise and persuasive language. This may seem an issue at first, but the more you practice, the easier it becomes. Sometimes, getting involved in theatre or debating forums can help to develop such skills. Remember that you may have to represent your clients in court, so you need to be convincing.

  • Writing clearly and concisely: Solicitors write legal documents and letters, which require impeccable writing skills. Knowledge of technical and legal jargon is essential, but conveying the meaning clearly is vital. To improve your written communication skills, you could start by taking meeting notes, writing newsletters or even managing social media accounts.

  • Proofreading and revising: Excellent attention to detail is essential if you want a career with a reputable law firm. Before contacting a legal studio, ensure you have reviewed your language and grammar carefully. Consider asking a trusted friend or mentor for suggestions to avoid being turned away from the job. Remember that the misuse of a word can totally change the meaning of a clause or contract, so precision is essential.

Related: What Are Communication Skills?

Information analysis and research

Analysing information gathered and absorbing facts and figures is one of the solicitor skills to help you grow in your career. Once you have examined and researched the data, you need to apply your communication skills to explain complex terminologies to your clients. Every case requires its own research. As a solicitor, you need to have research skills because you need to learn about different subjects. However, research does not limit itself to library resources but also includes network contacts.

Related: Research Skills: Definition and Examples

Organisation

Solicitors are not just professionals who represent a client in court. They draft legal documents, contracts, manage case files, and meet clients, all at the same time. Therefore, having good time management and organisational skills are essential. In other words, they multitask while remaining focused all the time. Being able to prioritise and stay focused is critical. Therefore, good organisational skills are essential.

Related: What Are Organisational Skills? (Types and Examples)

Perseverance

A case is never over until the judge gives the verdict. You may have already gone through a tough and challenging course, but you need to persist. Each case you take on board is different, with fresh and exciting challenges. Exploring all the solutions for the benefit of your clients can help you see different pathways to success. However, be realistic and do not raise false hopes with your clients. Some cases take longer than expected, and perseverance can help you persist through challenges.

Resilience and self-confidence

If you want to stand out from other solicitors, then having determination and enthusiasm will go a long way. The same applies to being resilient and confident in your own capabilities. Resilience is the ability to cope with challenges by acknowledging difficulties, accepting complex situations and continuing to work towards solutions. One way to develop resilience is to build your self-confidence. When you feel confident in your abilities, you may find it easier to recover from setbacks, take a solution-focused perspective and approach problems as challenges to resolve rather than personal shortcomings.

Related: What is self-confidence and why is it important to have?

Initiative

Notwithstanding the fact that working as part of a team is essential, there might be occasions where you need to show initiative and independence. You can develop independence skills at any point in time. For example, you can think about when you needed to take a difficult decision and remember how you approached it.

Related: How To Take Initiative in the Workplace: A 7-Step Guide

Task management

Prioritising important tasks is among the crucial solicitor skills. Solicitors have to manage their time effectively by planning things out and have a timetable, in order to make sure they complete all responsibilities. A solicitor may choose to use various task management strategies, such as creating task lists, keeping a spreadsheet with important duties and deadlines or using a calendar to mark essential dates. When solicitors manage their tasks effectively, they may reduce stress, portray professionalism and feel confident in their work efforts.

Related: How to stay focused (with tips and tricks to help)

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