The legal profession has gone through significant changes in 2020. This means that the demands on lawyers are also rapidly evolving. Which raises the question: what will be required from lawyers in the future? Read on to learn the skills you can develop in 2021 to power your professional growth – ensuring you stay ahead in the future.

Technological Competency

Technology has been reshaping the legal landscape at a rapid rate, and this has only increased in the past year as most lawyers moved to remote work due to COVID-19. To remain competitive and to continue to work effectively, lawyers need to make technological competence a key part of their professional growth strategy in 2021.

Business Acumen

Tomorrow’s clients will be looking for lawyers who can act as business advisors with a legal lens. This means you need to understand your client’s business and the different factors impacting it, including how to prepare for and navigate a crisis.

Client Management

As a lawyer, it is your responsibility to build trust with your client, so that they feel secure and confident in your capabilities. You are the face of the law practice or firm, so it’s important that you give a good overall impression. In turn, providing excellent service means you are more likely to have happy clients with the possibility of repeat business and positive referrals.

Sales and Marketing

Today, lawyers and law firms can easily do their own marketing. Thanks to social media they can build their brand, manage their reputation, and create relationships with prospective clients and referrers – all without the help of a dedicated sales or marketing department.

You can start by educating yourself on how law firms are using social media to market themselves and build their brand – but it is also important for your professional growth to learn about risk management issues and the ethical pitfalls of social media and how you can avoid these.

Cultural Awareness

In an increasingly globalised world, it is becoming more common for lawyers to serve clients from cultural backgrounds different to their own. Failure to recognise and adapt to cultural differences can have serious consequences for the lawyer-client relationship. It can give rise to misunderstandings, conflicts, and distrust. For a lawyer to be able to work effectively in a cross-cultural setting, they must be self-aware and have strategies and tools in place to be able to recognise and respond to cultural differences.

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence (EI) is the ability to engage with your own and other’s emotions – an invaluable skill for any practicing lawyer. But until recently, EI has been a long overlooked skill in the legal profession.

You can develop your EI by learning how to cultivate empathy, deal with difficult people, and manage clients with high conflict personalities. The tools and strategies you develop will stand you in good stead for dealing intelligently with clients, colleagues and other lawyers throughout your professional life.

Mental Health and Resilience

It’s no secret that the legal profession has a big problem with mental health. However, successful lawyers and firms are starting to embrace resilience as a tool for managing stress and improving mental health.

By improving your resilience, you are more likely to not only survive in the legal profession but to thrive in your role. Consider learning more about cultivating your sense of purpose in the profession, as well as practical tips for maintaining and improving your wellbeing. 

What’s Your Next Move?

Which of these skills will you make part of your professional growth strategy for 2021? If you are looking for inspiration on where to start, you can browse our extensive range of premium online CPD courses.

Posted by Sarah Mateljan

Sarah Mateljan is a lawyer and co-founder of two tech startups - LawCPD and CourseGenius. LawCPD was the first company to provide online CPD to lawyers on any device - smartphone, desktop or tablet – in Australia, and continues to be an industry leader. For more information, please see LawCPD's website: LawCPD.com.au

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