Here’s the #1 Skill Lawyers Need Today

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It's not what you might think.

If you’re looking to add a new associate – or if you’re a lawyer looking for a job – be sure to prioritize “soft” skills like communication, empathy and positivity.

These traits will be of greatest value to your firm in the months and years to come.

Hard skills like tech proficiency and legal writing can be taught, whereas high emotional intelligence is a quality some have and others don’t.

“The future of work belongs to those who possess emotional and social skills,” according to this “Future of Law” post for Inc. “As the world fills with more sophisticated AI and ubiquitous technology, human skills – compassion, empathy, etc. – will define the competitive edge of workers and entire organizations. So those interested in thriving in a high-tech world must put renewed prioritization on emotional intelligence and soft skills.”

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Top Six Skills Job Applicants Are Lacking

In 2019, the Society of Human Resource Management conducted a “State of the Workplace” survey. Following are the top six skills HR managers say job applicants need – but don’t have, courtesy of Ryan Jenkins and Inc. Each of the top three skills require emotional intelligence:

  1. Problem-solving, critical thinking, innovation, and creativity (37 percent)
  2. Ability to deal with complexity and ambiguity (32 percent)
  3. Communication (31 percent)
  4. Trade skills (carpentry, plumbing, welding, machining, etc.) (31 percent)
  5. Data analysis / data science (20 percent)
  6. Science / engineering / medical (18 percent)

Here are some other takeaways from the Inc. article:

  • Soft skills are twice as predictive of a student’s academic achievement as home environment and demographics.
  • Fifty-seven (57) percent of leaders say soft skills are more important than hard skills.
  • “Employers aren’t looking for the same level of deep knowledge and technical skill as they did in the past. In fact, 90 percent of employers say they are open to accepting non-traditional candidates that do not hold four-year college degrees. At IBM, as many as one-third of U.S. employees lack a traditional four-year degree.”
  • Forty (40) percent of employers say artificial intelligence will help fill the skills gap. “The prevalence of AI will only make social and emotional skills more necessary and valuable because they are the skills robots can’t automate.”
  • “Hard skills have a short shelf life, but strengthening the social and emotional skills of your workforce will never go out of style, and soft skills are more transferable across careers and industries.”

If you practice in Wisconsin, Texas, Minnesota, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana or Michigan, you can stay on top of ethics and risk management news by being a member of Alta Pro Lawyers RPG. You’ll get access to free webinars, the Pro Practice Playbook, Reminger ProLink, Ask the Risk Pro and more. Here’s how to join.

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