The Biggest Training Void in the Law Professsion

In the 5 years I have been supporting the attorney profession, I have noticed there is something commonly overlooked with regards to professional development.

The biggest void in professional skill development for attorneys is in an area that ranks in the top 3 needs of their profession.

Of course they need to research – they need to discover, uncover, clarify, compare, etc. and create a foundation for their case. Of course they also need to write – briefs, responses, motions, case studies, letters and complaints, etc.

For these identified needs attorneys get constant training and support mainly through CLE’s but also through mentoring and other means. The support is frequently given to newer associates, yet even the practiced attorney, especially when shifting responsibilities requires it, is motivated to increase effectiveness in either research or writing.

The area of need that is a common void for attorneys, which is often considered something only a few are good at, (so why wouldn’t they seek help?) is presentation or speaking effectiveness, something all attorneys need to be good at. Although litigators are the commonly viewed attorneys to need this skill, so do transactional attorneys. You never know when you’ll be called on to speak – at meetings, for a client group or CLE, or even out in public while networking.

Public speaking is the fastest way to begin a new relationship with several people, to inform or persuade, to update with a case review and to gain credibility.

Contrary to popular belief, speaking effectively is not the skill set of extroverts, only. And it is not something only introverts need to improve in. Many who report liking to present need to get past common flaws and many who report not liking to present need to re-frame their focus.

3 speaking areas important for attorneys to develop

1. Confidence

2. Clear, comprehensive message

3. Ability to relate to and engage listeners

The ancient Greek orator, Aristotle, called these 3 things ethos, logos and pathos. In essence, these are what make for speaking effectiveness. Depending on our communication style, we each possess one or more of and have at least one thing we need to improve.

Attorneys need to speak well, whether to inform or persuade their listeners as well as to relate to what’s important to their listeners. It’s an active skill that leads to action from listeners – from clients, the court, the business network, the practice group or firm’s co-workers, and others.

Why develop your speaking skills?

While the first two attorney skills are passive (research and writing), speaking is the skill that creates action. It starts relationship, it motivates action and it maintains good will.

If you are in charge of attorney professional development in  your firm, I encourage you to expand beyond training and coaching in research and writing. Bring in support that helps partners and associates identify their individual speaking strengths while also committing to help them expand on them, helping to motivate their speaking, helping them hone their message and fulfill their speaking intent.

Limit the void in your attorney’s skill sets, especially those that help them actively make a difference in the profession. Help them speak with confidence.

Peer Presentation Group Workshops

Mini Workshops of Peer Presentation Group

Individual Presentation Coaching

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