As the legal landscape evolves, mastering soft skills alongside legal expertise is crucial for success. While the industry continues to change, certain foundational skills remain essential for lawyers at every career stage.

As I mentioned last week, I planned to update some of my older posts to ensure that they’re still relevant for a modern audience (I **wanted** to write a post to celebrate fifteen years of blogging this week, but the time slipped away from me, so stay tuned for that – better late than never, right?).

In my original set of posts, I had seen a survey on LinkedIn from a law student who wanted to know from their connections about the ranked importance of various skills: networking, presentation skills, business writing, communication, and time management. These skills are not only pertinent to law students but also hold significant value for seasoned legal professionals. Let’s explore how these skills translate into the daily practice of law in today’s dynamic environment – because truth be told, these skills are just as relevant today as they were six years ago.

Crafting a Strategic Plan

Effective business development planning is indispensable in today’s legal arena. Begin by outlining your objectives: Do you aim to expand your client base, foster existing client relationships, or explore new practice areas?

Set clear, measurable goals and devise strategies to achieve them. Whether it involves attending networking events, leveraging your professional network, or enhancing your online presence, a well-thought-out plan is essential.

Consider setting specific targets for each activity. For instance, if attending a networking event, aim to connect with a certain number of individuals and schedule follow-up meetings promptly.

Engage in Thorough Research

In the digital age, thorough research is non-negotiable. Utilize social media platforms to gain insights into potential clients and referral sources. Explore news stories, employee backgrounds, and company values to tailor your approach effectively.

Additionally, cultural research is invaluable when engaging with individuals from diverse backgrounds. Understanding cultural nuances enhances communication and fosters meaningful connections.

Refine Your Elevator Pitch

Your elevator pitch is more than a brief introduction—it’s an opportunity to articulate your value proposition concisely. Instead of focusing solely on your role, emphasize how you address clients’ needs or assist referral sources.

Craft a compelling elevator pitch that highlights your unique contributions and prompts further discussion. Tailor your pitch to resonate with different audiences and foster engaging conversations.

The words “elevator pitch” may seem outdated, but whatever you call it, we still need to tell our audiences, in thirty seconds or less, why they should keep speaking to us – whether that’s in an actual elevator, online, or in line at a coffee shop. So you’d better know what it is you have to say.

Leverage Social Media

Social media platforms serve as powerful tools for networking and brand building. From LinkedIn to TikTok (for some), explore platforms relevant to your professional interests.

Follow relevant hashtags and companies to stay informed about industry trends and developments. Before networking events, connect with key attendees and initiate meaningful conversations online.

Consider developing thought leadership content to showcase your expertise and engage with industry stakeholders. Actively participate in online discussions and leverage social media to expand your professional network.

Networking Beyond Traditional Settings

Networking opportunities are ubiquitous, extending beyond formal events. Engage with individuals in various settings, from community activities to casual meetups.

Expand your network by connecting with diverse groups and fostering genuine relationships. Embrace opportunities to connect offline, whether over meals or during travel.

Embrace the Role of Salesmanship

While not traditionally taught in law school, salesmanship is integral to effective lawyering. Communicate your value proposition effectively and cultivate a mindset of continuous networking.

Remember, successful lawyering is not just about closing deals—it’s about building lasting relationships and adding value to clients’ lives.

In Conclusion

In today’s legal landscape, mastering soft skills is paramount to professional success. By honing networking abilities, leveraging social media, and embracing strategic planning, modern lawyers can navigate the complexities of the legal profession with confidence and agility.

Effective networking is not just a task—it’s a mindset. Embrace opportunities to connect, engage authentically, and cultivate meaningful relationships throughout your legal journey. This may feel scary to some – there are a LOT of us introverts in the legal industry! But no matter what your strengths are, find something that speaks to you and start there. I heard a fantastic quote today – “practice makes progress.” We don’t have to be perfect at these soft skills to get better at them; we only need to keep chipping away to get better each day.

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Photo of Lindsay Griffiths Lindsay Griffiths

Lindsay Griffiths is the International Lawyers Network’s Executive Director. She is a dynamic, influential international executive and marketing thought leader with a passion for relationship development and authoring impactful content. Griffiths is a driven, strategic leader who implements creative initiatives to achieve the…

Lindsay Griffiths is the International Lawyers Network’s Executive Director. She is a dynamic, influential international executive and marketing thought leader with a passion for relationship development and authoring impactful content. Griffiths is a driven, strategic leader who implements creative initiatives to achieve the goals of a global professional services network. She manages all major aspects of the Network, including recruitment, member retention, and providing exceptional client service to an international membership base.

In her role as Executive Director, Griffiths manages a mix of international programs, engages a diverse global community, and develops an international membership base. She leads the development and successful implementation of major organizational initiatives, manages interpersonal relationships, and possesses executive presence with audiences of internal and external stakeholders. Griffiths excels at project management, organization, and planning, writes and speaks with influence and authority, and works independently while demonstrating flexibility in thinking, especially in challenging situations. She also adapts to diverse and dynamic environments with constant assessment and recalibration.

JD Supra Readers Choice Top Author 2019

In 2021, the ILN was honored as Global Law Firm Network of the Year by The Lawyer European Awards, and in 2016, 2017, and 2022, they were shortlisted as Global Law Firm Network of the Year. Since 2011, the Network has been listed as a Chambers & Partners Leading Law Firm Network, recently increasing this ranking to be included in the top two percent of law firm networks globally, as well as adding two regional rankings. She was awarded “Thought Leader of the Year” by the Legal Marketing Association’s New York chapter in 2014 for her substantive contributions to the industry and was included in Clio’s list of “34 People in Legal You Should Follow on Twitter.” She was also chosen for the American Bar Association Journal’s inaugural Web 100‘s Best Law Blogs, where judge Ivy Grey said “This blog is outstanding, thoughtful, and useful.” Ms. Griffiths was chosen as a Top Author by JD Supra in their 2019 Readers’ Choice Awards, for the level of engagement and visibility she attained with readers on the topic of marketing & business development. She has been the author of Zen & the Art of Legal Networking since February 2009.