Hardcore Soft Skills

I have always wondered why soft skills were called soft skills. Perhaps it was as a result of them being perceived as feminine and fluffy. When I googled “what are soft skills?” I got this:

7 Essential Soft Skills

  1. Communication Skills
  2. Emotional Intelligence
  3. Adaptability
  4. Problem-Solving Skills
  5. Leadership Skills
  6. Teamwork and Collaboration
  7. Time Management and Organisation

You might be forgiven for thinking these are actually at the core of any personal life navigation, organisation, and business success.

When I further refined the search to help us identify what were the 7 soft skills necessary for lawyers, we came up with this:

  1. Attention to detail
  2. Research and analysis
  3. Persuasion
  4. Business sense
  5. Communication
  6. Creative problem solving
  7. Organisation

Essentially the only difference between lawyers and everyone else seems to be the need to be able to research and analyse and the fact that teamwork is not considered a soft skill.

In “Tomorrow’s Lawyers” a leading publication by futurist lawyer Richard Susskind, he outlines various skills that future lawyers should develop to thrive in an evolving legal landscape. Here are his 7 skills from the book:

  1. Technology Proficiency: As technology continues to reshape the legal industry, lawyers need to be proficient in utilizing legal technology tools such as document automation, AI-powered research platforms, and data analytics.
  2. Legal Project Management: With increasing pressure to deliver legal services efficiently and within budget, lawyers should possess project management skills to effectively plan, execute, and monitor legal projects.
  3. Client Relationship Management: Building strong relationships with clients is crucial for success in the legal profession. Lawyers should develop skills in understanding client needs, managing expectations, and providing value-added services.
  4. Legal Design Thinking: Adopting a design thinking approach can help lawyers better understand and address the needs of their clients. This involves empathizing with clients, defining legal problems, ideating solutions, prototyping, and testing.
  5. Global Perspective: In an interconnected world, lawyers must have a global perspective to navigate international legal frameworks, cross-border transactions, and multinational disputes effectively.
  6. Adaptability and Continuous Learning: Given the rapid pace of change in the legal industry, lawyers need to be adaptable and committed to lifelong learning. This includes staying updated on emerging legal trends, technological advancements, and regulatory changes.
  7. Ethical Leadership: As guardians of justice, lawyers should demonstrate ethical leadership by upholding the highest standards of professional conduct, promoting access to justice, and advocating for fairness and equality within the legal system.

So, rather than thinking of soft skills as something ancillary to core skills, I claim that they are in fact hard core skills worthy of proper training and development programmes and recognition in the same way as all other skills when evaluating talent.

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