While a litigator’s career comes with glamorous preconceived notions of high salaries, exciting court cases and brokering deals, there is more depth and challenge to this role than people are familiar with. We highlight the key functions of a litigator.
Building on credibility
The foundation of all working relationships is trust. Hence, being able to command a level of mutual credibility with clients, colleagues, judges and even opposing counsel is essential to the litigation practice. The rules to achieving this is simple, when making a promise – no matter how small, keep that promise. Highly-respected trial lawyers will go to extreme lengths to protect their credibility. This determines their personal branding and professional reputation in the legal profession.
Nature of the job
Litigators primarily write briefs, conduct research on laws and statutes, review documents, and attend dispositions or make court appearances. Court appearances are, however, rare as most corporate litigation matters are settled and negotiated out of court. Litigation would require an individual to have an interest towards the more academic side of law. Candidates typically display proficiency in areas such as constitutional law, torts, product liabilities, intellectual property or insurance. This is because much of litigation involves research and a strong knowledge of the laws and statutes involved.
Good interpersonal skills
While there is a good degree of paperwork involved in litigation, the role also requires teamwork and collaboration. These lawyers rarely work alone and are often part of teams, therefore it is important to have strong interpersonal skills. Good people skills will help in negotiating with other external stakeholders and clients, allowing professionals to work more effectively and efficiently. In addition, written communication skills are critical for writing and drafting legal documents.
The right attitude
The other qualities that are important are soft skills. Qualities such as motivation, passion, leadership and tact will go a long way. To succeed in this role, you will need to be self-motivated, passionate and have initiative while taking on complex cases. The tricky part is in developing these skills which come with years of legal experience.
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