Many may consider legal expertise when considering the characteristics defining a top-notch litigator. While important, the skill set required for excellence in litigation goes far beyond knowing the law.
From the ability to communicate to showing empathy towards clients, many skills combine to make a litigator stand out.
Strong communication skills
A good litigator must communicate effectively. This means articulating points in a persuasive manner, whether speaking in court or writing legal documents. It also involves listening to understand all case aspects and responding to questions and concerns.
Thorough knowledge of the law
A litigator can only succeed with a deep understanding of the laws relevant to the case. This requires knowing the statutes and how previous cases have interpreted and applied them. Staying updated on recent legal claims ensures they provide the best representation for clients.
Preparation and organization
Being well-prepared is a key aspect. A good litigator conducts thorough research, gathers evidence and prepares arguments in advance. Organizing information in a way that is easy to access and reference during court proceedings helps make a strong case.
A litigator must analyze information, spot inconsistencies in the opposition’s arguments and devise strategies. Litigators must think about every detail of their case. They must expect potential challenges and craft arguments that address these issues.
Empathy and understanding
While it might seem surprising, empathy plays a significant role in litigation. A litigator can better present their case by understanding and empathizing with the client. This also helps anticipate how a judge or jury perceives specific facts or arguments.
Persistence and resilience
Litigation often involves long hours, many challenges and unexpected developments. A good litigator remains persistent and resilient, no matter the obstacles. They remain committed to achieving the best possible outcome for their client, even when facing challenging odds.
Honesty and integrity form the backbone of the legal system. A litigator must adhere to a strict code of ethics. This not only ensures they maintain a good reputation but also that they serve their clients and the justice system honorably.
While many think of litigators as always in the courtroom, much of their work involves negotiating settlements outside of court. For example, only about 5% of personal injury lawsuits go to trial. Dealing effectively often leads to quicker, more favorable outcomes for clients.
The attributes of a good litigator go beyond just legal knowledge. With a combination of these qualities, they ensure the best outcomes for their clients and contribute significantly to the legal profession.