5 qualities of a lawyer that make them stand out

Qualities Of A Lawyer That Make Them Stand Out
Learn the unique qualities of a lawyer, from mastering key skills to building strong relationships, and how to stand out and succeed.

There are certain qualities of a lawyer that take them to be truly exceptional. So, you want to be a great lawyer – the kind that stands out among the roughly 1.3 million attorneys practicing in the U.S. today? That is a lofty but worthy goal!

Fortunately, there are some tried-and-true methods that will help you get there. We’ll discuss them in this post.

As you likely already know, to succeed in the legal profession, it’s not enough to know the law. Pretty much everyone who graduates from law school has that down.

The truth is, this is a competitive field where the skills you did not necessarily learn in law school make all the difference. And while there’s no magic formula to becoming a standout lawyer, there are certain things you can work on to help you rise above the rest. 

Let’s dive into the five essential qualities that make a lawyer truly exceptional.

Quality 1: Excellent communication skills

If you’ve spent any time in a courtroom or law firm, you know that communication is king. Among the essential qualities of a lawyer, whether it’s crafting a compelling argument or explaining a complex legal concept to a client, strong communication skills are crucial.

Verbal and written communication are the bread and butter of a lawyer’s daily life.

Indeed, to be a standout lawyer, you must excel at both. On the verbal side, think clear, concise, confident, and persuasive. You need to articulate your points effectively, whether you’re arguing in court or discussing a case with a staff member.

On the written side, your briefs, contracts, and even emails should be sharp, to the point, and free of legalese (unless absolutely necessary). The ability to communicate effectively builds credibility and trust.

It’s not just about talking and writing, however. Listening is equally important. A standout lawyer listens to clients, colleagues, and even opposing counsel to understand their perspectives.

This ability to listen and then communicate effectively is what makes you not just a lawyer, but a great lawyer.

Quality 2: Strong analytical and problem-solving skills

Being a lawyer is a bit like playing chess or driving on an LA freeway – you always need to be thinking several moves ahead. Analytical and problem-solving skills are at the heart of this.

When a client walks into your office with a legal issue, your job is to dissect the problem, find applicable laws, and craft a solution.

Strong analytical skills involve breaking down complex information into manageable parts. You should be able to identify key issues, analyze relevant cases, statutes, or regulations, and understand how those laws apply to specific situations.

It’s a blend of legal knowledge and critical thinking that allows you to spot patterns and connections that others might miss.

Problem-solving skills come into play when you’re faced with a legal puzzle that doesn’t have an obvious solution. This is where creativity and innovation matter.

A standout lawyer isn’t afraid to use creativity in order to find solutions that work for their clients. Whether it’s negotiating a settlement, crafting a unique legal strategy, or finding a loophole that benefits your client, the ability to solve problems is what sets you apart.

Quality 3: Adaptability and resilience

If there’s one thing I know about the legal industry after being in and around it for a quarter-century, it’s that this profession is always evolving.

Laws are amended, technology evolves, and the demands on lawyers are constantly shifting. To stand out in this whirlwind, adaptability and resilience are three qualities of a lawyer that cannot be undervalued.

Adaptability means being open to new ideas, willing to learn, and flexible in your approach. Whether it’s embracing new technology to streamline your workflow or adapting to changing client needs, lawyers who can roll with the punches have a distinct advantage.

An adaptable lawyer is also more likely to find innovative solutions to legal problems because they’re not confined to traditional ways of thinking.

Resilience, on the other hand, is all about bouncing back from setbacks. The legal world can be tough – rulings don’t always go your way, clients can be demanding, and the workload can be intense.

A standout lawyer doesn’t let these challenges get them down. Instead, they view setbacks as opportunities to learn and grow. Sometimes, that even means maintaining a positive attitude when everything inside of you wants to scream and kick things.

For attorneys, work-life balance is a key component of resilience. Finding time for personal pursuits, family, friends, and relaxation helps maintain mental health and keeps burnout at bay.

Remember, you can’t be a standout lawyer if you’re running on fumes. And if all else fails, a little humor goes a long way. Sometimes, the best way to deal with stress is to laugh at it.

Quality 4: Strong ethics and integrity

In law, your reputation is everything. Clients, colleagues, judges, and even opposing attorneys must be able to trust you. This is where strong ethics and integrity come into play.

A lawyer who adheres to high ethical standards and who demonstrates integrity and civility will always stand out from the crowd.

As you well know, ethics in the legal profession cover a wide range of issues, from maintaining client confidentiality to avoiding conflicts of interest.

A standout lawyer is meticulous about following ethical guidelines and ensuring their actions are above reproach. This means being transparent with clients, respecting the rules of professional conduct, and avoiding even the appearance of impropriety.

Integrity is about doing the right thing, even when no one is watching. It’s about being honest with clients, colleagues, the court, and yourself. Lawyers with integrity build lasting relationships and a strong professional reputation.

They are the ones who can be trusted to act in their clients’ best interests, even when it’s not the easiest or most profitable path.

Ethical dilemmas are inevitable in the legal profession, and it’s how a lawyer handles them that sets them apart. A lawyer with strong ethics and integrity doesn’t cut corners or bend the rules to win a case.

Nor do they let their colleagues do so on their watch. Instead, they find creative yet ethical solutions to legal problems. And while integrity might not make headlines, it’s a quality that earns respect and admiration.

Quality 5: Relationship-building skills

Law is as much about relationships as it is about statutes and case law. Among the qualities of a lawyer, the ability to build connections and network effectively is crucial for truly standing out.

The ability to form meaningful relationships with clients, colleagues, and other professionals can open doors and create opportunities that might otherwise remain closed.

Relationship-building starts with treating people with respect and kindness. A standout lawyer understands that every interaction is an opportunity to make a positive impression.

This doesn’t mean being insincere or overly polite – it means being genuine, listening actively, and showing empathy. Clients, in particular, appreciate lawyers who take the time to understand their needs and make them feel valued.

Networking is the art of creating a professional web of connections. Lawyers who network effectively often find that it leads to new clients, collaborations, career opportunities, and friendships.

The key is to approach networking with a sense of curiosity and a genuine interest in others. Whether you’re attending a legal conference or grabbing coffee with a colleague, the goal is to build relationships that are mutually beneficial.

Importantly, strong relationship-building and networking skills aren’t just about you. They can also lead to better teamwork. Law is rarely a solo endeavor, and a standout lawyer knows how to work effectively with others.

This includes collaborating with colleagues on cases, seeking mentorship from experienced lawyers, and working with opposing counsel to reach a settlement. A lawyer who can build bridges is more likely to succeed in the long run.

The best part about networking is that it doesn’t have to be boring. Some of the best connections are made at happy hours, industry events, or casual lunches. So, don’t be afraid to show a little personality and use humor to break the ice.

After all, nobody wants to network with someone who’s all business and no fun.


The qualities of a lawyer that you must emulate to be great require more than just legal knowledge; it demands a combination of excellent communication skills, strong analytical and problem-solving abilities, adaptability and resilience, unwavering ethics and integrity, and exceptional relationship-building capabilities.

These qualities distinguish standout lawyers in a competitive field. As you work to develop these traits, remember that it is a continuous journey of learning and growth.

Embrace each challenge as an opportunity to refine your skills, and maintain a balance between professional and personal life to sustain your passion and prevent burnout.

This may seem like a simple list, but people spend their entire careers trying to hone these skills. Be patient with yourself, tackle them one at a time if necessary, and just do everything you can to be great. You got this!

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