Lawyering Skills

My Negotiation Workshop colleague, Joanne Lipo Zovic, is the alumni blogger of the month for Marquette and posted her non-scientific survey on lawyering skills.  Her findings support much of what we teach in dispute resolution and I particularly liked the wordle she created from the results.  As she writes:

I got 38 responses back (thanks to all of you for taking the time) from lawyers in traditional private practice, from large and small firms and across all practice areas (IP, family, criminal, creditor’s right, employment, mental health, immigration, litigation of many types, appellate practice and estate planning to name a few); from public service lawyers (DAs, GALs, court commissioners, city attorneys, state appointees); from in-house counsel (manufacturing, real estate, sales support, medical ethics, athletics, and financial services); from ADR practitioners (mediators, trainers, RJ practitioners and conflict management consultants); and from academia (librarians, doctrinal law faculty, skills curriculum faculty).

I reviewed the responses and saw lots of agreement across practices and thought it would be most interesting to create a word map. So, I entered the responses into “Wordle”, a web tool and then this tool, created a visual collection of all the data and the relative size of a given response reflects the frequency of the data point.

From the 38 participants, the top five skills necessary to be an effective lawyer are:

1. Communication

2. Listening

3. Writing

4. Negotiation

5. Time Management

If you really think about it, this is not surprising, and interestingly, it is consistent with the critiques of legal education that we need to teach both analytical skills and skills deemed “soft” (and so somehow less meriting academic endeavor).


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