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Tasks and Skills in Law

This video from The University of Law explores common tasks in Law and the skills needed to do them.
Let’s have a look then at some of the typical day to day tasks you might find you are doing as a lawyer. Now this is an exhaustive list, but it gives you an idea of some of the common things you might find you are doing. First one we’ll think about his legal drafting. So that’s essentially legal writing. That can be something like a letter to somebody or it could even be a legal contract. The skills that clearly gonna be important here for you in this task is communication skills and we’re meaning written communication skills at this point. You are gonna have to be able to translate certain amounts of information into quite nice concise memos or letters, for example.
And you’re gonna have to be able to tailor that communication as well. The way you write a letter to a client, for example, is gonna be very different for how you write a memo to a senior partner in your firm. Because you’re trying to sometimes convey the same thing but to people in very different audiences. So how can you adapt your communication style to suit the people you’re talking to? And when we say in this sense, again, we’re still talking about written so that could be a letter or an email. Another thing you might have to write is a legal contract. So watch your written communication is very important here. What’s also important, is your attention to detail.
There can be quite serious implications, if you get something wrong in a contract, for example. So you’re gonna have to make sure you have a system in mind is to how you check, how you get things right. So you can say yeah, attentions detail, take, done, I know this is all right. Now obviously your written communication is important. As you might suspect I’m probably gonna say next, your spoken communication skills are very important as well. And this comes in in various ways. So if we start at the start of a journey as a lawyer, when you are first meeting your client or conferencing, as it’s sometimes known.
You’re gonna have to obviously be a good communicator to talk to them, and to get the information you want out of them. So you’re gonna need to know certain things to be able to help them with their case. And it might be depending on the area of law you work in, you’re actually asking somebody to tell you things that are quite sensitive, okay, that are quite personal. So being able to relate to other people having that empathy, having that kind of personable side to you that allows you to form those trusting relationships is gonna be really important in those instances. Now it might be when you speak to somebody actually all they’re looking for from you is some advice.
And so again, you’re gonna have to be able to translate what you know in terms of the law into something understandable to somebody who doesn’t know the law. So you’re gonna have to communicate with them clearly in that way. It might be that the information you find out then means you have to go on and talk to other people about it. So again, tailoring your approach to who you’re talking to. Who you are communicating with. You could be, have to go into some kind of negotiation with somebody. So obviously, your verbal communication is important there but also how persuasive you can be. You’re negotiating on your client’s behalf, you are fighting for what your client wants, what your client needs.
So you have to try and be persuasive with that other person you’re negotiating with. Equally if you’re more perhaps looking down the barista route, your role there would be standing up in court and arguing on someone’s behalf or advocacy as it’s called. Now when you advocate for somebody you’re giving over to the jury, to the judge, to the people who are listening, the point of view and kind of the stance that your client is taking. Or why should your client be found not guilty or why should be found guilty. You’re maybe doing what’s called a player mitigation. So you are arguing somebody’s sentence, what’s their sentence should be. Should it be slightly reduced?
You could be doing a bail application for somebody. All of these require you to be persuasive, require those verbal communication skills because you’re talking to the jury, to the judge. So you need to be in those instances a very confident speaker in front of other people, a confident and clear speaker. And sometimes in those situations and perhaps even in a negotiation in any situations where you’re communicating negotiating with somebody, something might get thrown in that you aren’t expecting. You’re gonna have to be able to be flexible and adaptable. And to be able to change your approach depending on what’s happening around you. So that kind of flexibility is a great skill and a great quality to have.
Ultimately all of these things go back to the same key as it was thought you are solving a problem for your client. That’s what you’re doing, be you are a solicitor or barrister, you’re trying to solve a problem for somebody. So, having good problem solving skills is a great one to have. It will be, somebody comes to you with a client with a particular problem. What you need to be able to do is look at it, right, okay, that’s what they want. That’s their aim, what things are gonna get in my way? What things do I need to find out? What things am I gonna have to negotiate around in order to solve that problem for that client.
And what if my first way doesn’t work, are there other ways I can solve those problems? So problem solving skills are key and the final thing we haven’t covered is research. So legal research will be a large part of your role, whether it’s researching your particular case in a company or an individual. Or it could be doing legal research into previous cases that are similar to your case. So looking at case law, you wouldn’t be expected as a solicitor or a barrister to know everything off the top of your head about every possible case that could relate to what your clients just sat down and told you. You will have to go away and find that out.
So first of all, knowing how you do that research, where’d you go? How can you find that information? But those skills of being able to take a large piece of information, lots and lots of pages of a report or anything like that. And distill it down and pull out those key facts that you need to then take away and use for your client in that case. Those analytical skills are really important for the legal research side of being a lawyer.

Last week we learnt about the two different types of lawyers there are, and the different routes you would need to take to become either a solicitor or a barrister. This week we will be looking at the skills you will need, and will develop, in a career in law.

Watch this video from Chlo from our Nottingham Campus to find out more about some of the main tasks you would be doing as a lawyer and the key skills you will need to use for these tasks.

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