Law school can teach you skills, but they can’t teach character. “Good” Lawyers are then those who go above and beyond for their clients. And I believe it goes far beyond just skills, some of what defines a good lawyer are actual personality traits that come in handy as a Lawyer.
What is “good” varies from person to person. And one of the best answers to what a good lawyer is was provided by our very own founder in a forum reply to a user. And we have to agree, it’s very subjective and what is good depends on a person’s situation.
While there are many opinions on the shared qualities of what makes a good lawyer, our research has shown that these are the ones agreed on the most.
Some clients might go for the most affordable, or on the other hand, the most experienced lawyer (which is often the most expensive). Communication or people skills then takes a back seat, which might result in clients switching lawyers halfway through their proceedings, which can be costly both in time and finances.
An important point to make here is being able to ask the right questions. Often, clients are not familiar with the law (which is why they need a lawyer in the first place). Even then, law is complex, and lawyers can’t assume that the client knows what they know, or even understands the situation at hand.
Questions such as “what would be the ideal outcome for you?” or “is there any part of this you are unsure of?” really helps to give the client a piece of mind, knowing full well that the lawyer they hired is able to take care of their legal needs.
Choosing a lawyer is like choosing a relationship.
You have to ensure that the Lawyers you choose are able to communicate well because :
- Legal Cases are complex
- Most people are not very familiar with Laws and/or proceedings
- Legal Fees are not cheap
Part of good communication is also being able to explain legal jargon in layman’s terms, such that your clients understand you and their legal situation.
The last sub point to note here is negotiation skills. This doesn’t mean the lawyer is able to ‘rob’ the other party of every last cent for you. Good negotiation skills just mean the lawyer is able to make the parties involved feel that a reasonable outcome was achieved. An outcome that all parties are content with. They make you feel good about what you’ve received from the case.
It’s about being able to balance the expectations on both sides through leverage to work towards a favourable recourse.
Not all lawyers are equal. Some command higher legal fees because of their extensive experience or achievements. This is expected and is applicable in most industries, not just law. It is also what separates the multitude of lawyers and law firms in Singapore.
Reasonable legal fees is getting increasingly important nowadays due to clients being able to compare and discuss their legal cases on forums, via social media and on other platforms. If you found out that you paid significantly more than others for a similar legal service rendered, you wouldn’t have the best impression of the lawyer afterwards, unless of course you knew and understood fully what you were getting into in the first place.
However, not all legal fees charged by Lawyers are justified. Some might take advantage of clients who are less educated or are totally clueless about the law, and convince them to engage legal services that are actually unnecessary and only beneficial to the lawyer. We are highly against this practice and i believe it is against the lawyers’ code of conduct.
3.Analytical and Strategic Thinking
Legal situations are complex and can involve a lot of parties. Lawyers with good analytical skills can focus and look at the big picture, or the overview of the entire situation.
They are also able to analyse parts of the case, and analyze it from all points of view.
There are times when there isn’t much information to work with. Such as in a traffic accident in the wee hours of the morning where there aren’t any cameras or witnesses for which to provide concrete evidence.
Analytical skills plays a huge part in these instances, to be able to piece together parts of a case and understand how or why something happened. Having good connections is also a notable trait that can help lawyers consult other subject matter experts in relation to a case.
In another example, Criminal lawyers should have the ability and intuition to look at the case from the view of the prosecutor, and vice versa. Lawyers should be able to take in large amounts of information, organize and understand it quickly.
Interpretation of what is said in the courtroom is also helpful. Clients or defendants might say something generic, which is open to interpretation. Being able to understand the meaning behind words is another useful skill.
A great lawyer is then able to think logically and make reasonable judgments and assumptions based on the information presented, and are able to think strategically about what is really best for their client, because sometimes what is best for the client may not always be the result that the lawyer was hired to fight for.
In this competitive space, Lawyers are always on the lookout for potential clients. Sometimes, this means they will over promise to get a job.
Essentially, there might be situations where a Lawyer isn’t needed, but the Lawyer phrases his words in such a way or convinces you otherwise, so that you’ll engage him/her for your case. There are instances where people think they need a lawyer, only to do a quick search online to find out that there are cheaper, and faster alternatives – such as the small claims tribunal & getting help via legal workshops.
Some Lawyers charge by the hour. This means the longer a case drags on, the more the client pays. Having a trustworthy and honest lawyer will help you save money as they won’t drag a case deliberately to get paid more.
Making the client feel more calm or at least being able to ease their thoughts regarding the matter at hand is one way a Lawyer can establish himself as a trustworthy legal practitioner. It’s about what the client feels after working or consulting with you, and whether your actions reflect that.
Trustworthiness then goes hand in hand with honesty, if Lawyers expect to get word of mouth referrals or recurring clients. You wouldn’t work twice with someone you don’t trust, would you?
There are a number of lawyers we’ve seen who have been in business for decades simply by word of mouth referrals or recurring clients. Some of them don’t even have a website !
As in any profession, experience separates the expert from the novice. However, Lawyers with experience dealing with numerous cases in the same category are golden in my eyes.
Let’s say you’re looking for a divorce lawyer. You will be better off getting a Lawyer that deals mostly with divorce cases as compared to a Lawyer that deals with numerous cases such as civil law, syariah etc.
I’m not saying that less-experienced Lawyers are not good or less superior. Far from it. There might be situations where a less-experienced Lawyer might be better for you, such as in uncontested divorces where the legal process is relatively straightforward. Experience is not the utmost priority in such an instance as you might be able to get the divorce finalised at a fairly low price.
I’d like to reiterate that it all depends on an individual’s circumstances, i.e what is suitable for them in their scenario.
Final Thoughts :
We are a legal startup, but all too often we come across people dissatisfied with their lawyers and the service they received. Worse still is when these lawyers take advantage of the less educated or those not familiar with the law. While we can only do so much to prevent this, we are on a mission to help users get Lawyers they can recommend to others.