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What to Look For in a Great Barrister

barrister-baristaGreat communication skills

Your barrister or lawyer should be very articulate, both in speech and in writing, as well as being a good listener. These skills are essential if he or she is to argue convincingly in the courtroom. Good listening skills are as important as speaking, because your barrister has to understand your needs and all the minute facts and nuances of your case, as well as those of the opposing side.

These skills can be learned while still at university (although some would argue that lawyers are born, not made…) by joining debating societies and spending time in chambers as an intern. Many successful barristers in London started out like this.

Good judgement

Good judgement means that your barrister is able to draw sound, logical conclusions from the available information, even if it’s wildly conflicting, or even if there’s too much information or not much at all.

The ability to look at the judgement critically, to spot flaws and pre-empt counter arguments, or even to dismiss an initial judgement, is also vital, as that’s exactly what the opposition will be doing! This leads on nicely to the ability to spot those same weaknesses from the other side… Being able to make quick decisions also helps, as there’s often not much time for indecision in a courtroom.

Strong analytical ability

Studying and practicing law means someone has to take in and digest a lot of information in a short period of time, then turn it into a concise, coherent and logical argument or case.

Sometimes there is more than one argument, conclusion or solution possible, so it’s also important to be able to look coolly at each one and pick out the best.

Good research skills

Strong, efficient research skills are also vital in a lawyer, as again, he or she will need to look through large amounts of information, understand it and pick out the most valuable and salient facts, before putting them forward as a workable argument.

Great people skills

Although the law is impersonal and blind, lawyers work with real-life people day in and day out. These people will be from all walks of life, in varying emotional states – sometimes in extreme states of despair or anxiety.

This means that a barrister must be good at reading non-verbal communication and gauging reactions in a split second. This is essential for spotting lies, or assessing the way the jury is leaning and adapting their approach to get the best outcome for the client.

Stamina and perseverance

Just obtaining a law degree is a really hard slog, and that’s before the first placement or training contract! It takes a lot of commitment just to qualify, and only then does the really hard work start. Once a barrister starts a case, they have to see it through to the end and that usually means a lot of late nights and weekends…

On-the-spot creativity

Occasionally there’s no obvious easy solution to a case or to a settlement, so your barrister has to be able to think outside the box, on the spot (which is a difficult combination!).

If you have a barrister with all of these qualities, you may just win your case!