There are obvious skills that every attorney needs—knowledge of evidence, for example. But there are also lesser known skills that turn an average attorney into a great one.
Being a good communicator is the hallmark of a winning attorney. The ability to be direct, clear, and concise is essential—persuading a judge or jury is difficult if they cannot follow the attorney's train of thought.. Strong writing skills are necessary, too. Written advocacy is still advocacy and might be the only chance for you to convince a judge, since oral arguments are not always guaranteed.
To brush up on these skills, take courses in Conducting Effective Discovery and Advanced Pretrial Practice.
Courage, while often inborn, can also be learned through experience. Courage is an important skill for an attorney to possess; it allows you to take important risks, when needed, without hesitation.
Part of being a good lawyer is the ability to adapt to any situation. Trials go wrong, witnesses forget, and things can get sideways quickly. No matter the situation, you must learn to go with the flow and always be ready for change.
Noticing what’s going on around you while staying focused on the case is a hard but necessary skill. Situational awareness—the ability to read your audience in any jurisdiction is the first skill. The second is spatial awareness—knowing how to use your courtroom to present your case in the most effective way.
A more tangible skill is mastering voir dire. Assessing your jury pool, asking the right questions, identifying potential biases, and ultimately successfully selecting jurors can make all the difference in your case.
On top of being knowledgeable in your case, you must be likable, believable, and credible. It’s important to make a good impression on juries. If they don't like you, you lose. If they don't trust you, you lose. If they don't believe in your cause or case, you lose.
One way to do this is to remember to be human. Lawyers are not robots, and they are constantly being judged against the negative stereotype of being money-hungry liars. Good advocates must be able to beat this perception.
Taking an Advanced Advocacy Course can help with learning good storytelling.
In a court case, the most prepared lawyer wins. A good advocate must know his opponent's case in and out just as he does his own. If you are not willing to work, this is not the profession for you. Learning how to study a whole case forward and backward is essential for becoming a great lawyer.
Lastly, attorneys must learn to get rid of their ego. Great advocates know that cases are never about them, rather it’s about the client and their case. Once you learn how to remove your ego from the case and focus on your client, you’ll find success.