With the legal landscape constantly changing, it is imperative that attorneys stay relevant. No matter how long you have been practicing law, it is always a good idea to reinvent yourself, even in the smallest of ways. If you feel you’re in a rut and would like to become a better lawyer, here are a few steps you can take to bring you closer to that goal.
1) Refine Your Presentation Skills. The average American’s knowledge of legal terms and procedures comes from Boston Legal reruns and Law and Order marathons on TNT. So although you may feel like you’re putting your argument forth eloquently, the average person may be left scratching their head. With that said, it is best to get a smooth, refined presentation down that can be universal. Meaning lawyers will respond to it and the average client will have a positive response as well. The great Clarence Darrow once said, “Unless a speaker can interest his audience at once, his effort will quickly be a failure.” Keep that in mind when preparing your arguments. Whether you are speaking with a client or the district attorney, you should be able to present your case with grace and confidence.
2) Develop a style. Find a convincing style and stick with it. Be consistent in your presentations. This doesn’t mean that you should be cutting back on the substance to include style. You should find a method of presenting your material that is memorable and distinctive. Arguments that are fresh, modern and easy to digest, that don’t lack the solid, meaty information have the biggest impact. Remember that even the most sparkling presentations can fail if they aren’t presented properly.
3) Keep the language clear and uncluttered. Wordy or overly scientific arguments may do wonders at showing off your legal vocabulary and validate your status as a competent lawyer, but be very careful that you aren’t being overly wordy. Think about how what you’re saying and how it would look on paper. When you’re reading something that has cluttered sentences and disorganized thoughts and ideas, no matter how convincing they are, it takes away from the message. Often times cluttered and unclear speech weakens the argument because it seems like fluff.
4) Take CLE Classes. Whether you are in need of CLE classes for the credit fulfillment, or are interested in continuing education seminars because you want to brush up on current law practices, it is always a good idea to take CLE classes. In addition to the obvious reasons of fulfilling the credit requirement by your state bar, continuing education seminars can give you the most through advice from some of the most prominent figures in the legal field. By taking CLE classes, you can most definitely get some constructive advice on how to become a better lawyer from those who would know best—other successful, practicing lawyers.