client interactions

Client Interactions and Communications Are the Skills New Attorneys Need Most: Legal Trends

What we’ve got here is failure to communicate! And interact! With clients! According to a new survey from Bloomberg Law, client interactions and communications are the skills that attorneys wish new arrivals had before practicing, among other findings.

Bloomberg Law’s Law School Preparedness Survey (covered here) recently asked 1,143 practicing attorneys and law school students, faculty, and librarians about the skills needed for practice and how well law schools prepared individuals to enter the legal profession.

When asked about what skills new attorneys should be familiar with, 80% of responding attorneys chose client interactions and communications. A close second was professional writing with 79%. Business development was third at 56%, legal tech was tied for fourth at 42% with legal operations and data literacy was sixth at 35%. So, less than half of respondents think new attorneys need to know legal tech and barely over a third thinks they need to be data literate (grumble, grumble).

When attorneys were asked about what skills they wish they had learned prior to practicing, client interactions topped the list with 55%, followed by conflict management at 42%, leadership skills at 33%, professional communications (e.g. email) at 31% and judgment at 25%.

When it comes to rating the soft skills of new attorneys, not surprisingly, many of the same skills were identified as lacking. New attorneys were rated lowest (combining slightly weak, weak, or very weak ratings) in leadership skills (65%) and client interactions (64%) by more than half of practicing attorney respondents. Networking, decision-making, judgment, and time management skills fared slightly better, but respondents reported room for improvement. “Strong” ratings (combining slightly strong, strong, and very strong ratings) were given to email skills (77%), critical thinking (68%), organizational skills (62%), and verbal communication skills (62%).

The article goes on to report results for where valuable attorney skills should be taught (with responses broken down by practicing attorney, law student, law school faculty and law librarian), top characteristics of a successful attorney, and more! Check it out here.

BTW, hat tip to Cat Moon for the heads up on the article – she will be one of the panelists on the next “He Said, She Said” podcast with Christy Burke and me discussing modernizing legal tech education coming soon!  🙂

So, what do you think?  Are you surprised by the results? Are you alarmed that more respondents don’t place importance on legal tech and data literacy knowledge for new attorneys?  Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

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Disclaimer: The views represented herein are exclusively the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views held by my employer, my partners or my clients. eDiscovery Today is made available solely for educational purposes to provide general information about general eDiscovery principles and not to provide specific legal advice applicable to any particular circumstance. eDiscovery Today should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a lawyer you have retained and who has agreed to represent you.

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