Prospective lawyers should start networking on their first day of law school, explains Jakob Wissel. Once in practice, lawyers must exercise all the skills of ethical salespeople to keep their jobs and bring value to the profession.
The need for sales skills seems to go without saying, but many law students are keeping their noses on stone in the hope that their rank in their class will make networking a disadvantage at best. Then they bombard their interviews on campus.
Or these students become editor-in-chief of the law journal and clerk of a respected justice. Then they have client and partner issues when they join a firm.
Sales skills are essential for connecting with the right firm and for maintaining the smooth client relationships necessary for favorable legal outcomes.
What Kinds of Business Skills Do Successful Lawyers Need? Here are nine examples.
Results orientation. Successful salespeople and lawyers get results for their clients. The sellers are doing business. The lawyers reach agreements.
Ability to argue. New partners in law firms, of course, usually don’t make a lot of arguments in court. However, they are constantly negotiating the details to define their client’s position.
Ability to persuade. The ability to persuade is not the same as the ability to manipulate. But lawyers must constantly persuade their clients to strive for the best possible outcome.
Ability to see both sides of an argument. Lawyers are responsible for taking their client’s side in an argument. They don’t need the ability to take both sides of an argument. But they must be able to see both sides of a legal issue to effectively represent clients’ interests.
Good writing skills. The main players in sales provide materials and services through specific written agreements. Lawyers create compelling written documents in accordance with laws, case law and rules of procedure.
Good oral skills. Most communications with customers in sales involve talking. Most fact-gathering and legal explanations to legal clients require proficiency in verbal communication.
Ability to connect with customers. Successful salespeople recognize the social and emotional connections with their customers. Lawyers are more successful in their explanations of the law when they deliver their opinions with empathy.
Ability to separate personal beliefs from business. Salespeople sell what their customers want. Lawyers represent the interests of their clients regardless of their personal values, within the framework of the law.
Critical mind. Both making a sale and getting a case depend on being able to recognize the pivot point that leads to the desired decision.
Jakob Wissel has an exceptional sales record. He brings these skills to the law.