By Shubhi Sharma:
Getting into a good law school is one thing and getting out of it is another. Every law student is not born a Mike Ross or Erin Brokovich who can walk out of law firms as they please. Average people like you and I need to figure out ways to have what it takes to be in that league of top lawyers. Passing a law school with straight A’s along with a good balanced CV dipped in extensive publishing and mooting accomplishments is indeed important to have a successful career. However, there are other important traits that lawyers cannot do without.
1. Argumentation– The entire basis of a lawyer’s work is contending and debating on the rational facts that have evidential value. In a strict literal sense, arguing entails presenting rational arguments. So do not confuse your occasional dogfights with this particular skill-set. You should have the affinity of arguing that can make you present views on anything under the sun- from finding the right food to the constitutional validity of the pending bill in Iraq that sexually objectifies women.
2. Writing– Lawyers draft briefs, memorials, motions and other hundred documents everyday which makes writing skills pertinent to the job. You can get a taste of this job in your first year as a law student where you would get to draft your first moot memorial (believe you me, it can drive you nuts). A senior professor of English in my law school refers the internet language as a mockery to the said subject. Hence, you should stop using ‘foe’ instead of ‘for’ or ‘wryt lyk dis’ if you are one of the kind.
3. Interpersonal Skills– This one involves managing and building relationships with a hundred different kinds of people that you get to deal with. Unlike many professions, people are the bread and butter for a lawyer that cannot be avoided. So how do you make people buy your skills even if they are just on the paper? For this, you hone in yourself good interpersonal skills because an average level will get you nowhere. (Developing your interest in psychology is a good way to start with).
4. The Know-How Skills– When you enter a law school, one of the things that you fancy about is the legal jargon that you become ‘legally’ entitled to use. You would start learning words like stare decisis, ab initio or malum prohibitum that can boost up your confidence to the next level. Having a good hand at this language is the first step to a good career, and making a judicious use of it is another. You cannot always publicly use these Latin terms as not many can understand you, and sometimes can backfire even if you are speaking them in front of a judge. You should know when to showcase your knowledge and when not to.
5. Thick Skinned– Life in and out of a law school is not an easy one. If you are picturing yourself in a nice office wearing hot office clothes, let me give you a quick reality check. You may get your dream job but with that you would find yourself buried in a brutal amount of paper work that can rip you apart on the first day. You need to be a workaholic to imagine that kind of a job. It does not matter what kind of profession you choose in the field of law, you will have to slog yourself down to own a BMW by the time you turn 40.
With law school entrance examinations a month away, you might want to mentally prepare yourself to be trained as a workaholic.