By Inna Ptitsyna.
The legal profession can be challenging because it requires deep knowledge of the subject, analytical skills, and the ability to defend your position. A popular concept is T-shaped lawyers, which are those who have highly developed soft skills. Modern lawyers would also greatly benefit from working hard on self-development, rather than just memorizing laws and cases.
Lawyers are professionals who work with both people and the laws. That is why developing communication and networking skills is vitally important for their career growth. However, there also are many challenges in the legal community, which is often quite conservative and exclusive. We believe that fostering a more open and approachable culture would benefit not only the development of lawyers, but also create new opportunities for them. Let's focus on how to become tomorrow’s best lawyer!
“Being a part of a community is one of the most important aspects of career building.”
an international community of legal innovators
Participation in the professional community will help you in the following ways:
1. Gain Knowledge About Specific Areas.
Being a part of the lawyers community helps with problem-solving on the intersection of law and technology. In such communities, people can all come together and share experiences and opportunities - everything from finding a job to starting your own company.
2. Develop Your Leadership And Organizational Skills.
By working on projects or volunteering, you can become a leader. That is why many communities also have student departments, which allows more students to become leaders very early in their career.
3. Create Wider Networks.
This is a powerful tool because we live in a much more mobile society where people travel often. Therefore, if you travel to another city, you will automatically have a network of other people who are working on similar tasks as you. This provides you with an opportunity to collaborate with a network of people to talk about ideas, spot opportunities, and work on and seize those opportunities in your career.
When it comes to networking, there are a couple things to remember:
1. Be Your Authentic Self.
It is important to be holistic in the way you represent yourself to others. Do not create an online self and an offline self, just be your true self. People appreciate the sincerity and openness that are so lacking in the age of digital communication.
2. Share Your Knowledge.
You need to provide value to community members and your colleagues. Share your knowledge or interesting information that you come across on the internet to create resources that would be helpful for someone else. Don’t just promote yourself or sell things.
This brings us to a final concept, which is the idea of openness for lawyers, both in terms of inclusivity and also sharing. An open culture for law is important for at least three reasons:
1. A Great Opportunity To Leverage Technology And Principles Of Design.
Historically, the legal system has been built largely by lawyers, and has been supported by other lawyers. One of the great recent innovations is to engage non-lawyer professionals as technologists and designers to be a part of the problem-solving process. Thus, we can create new solutions and make the legal system work better for everyone.
2. An Open Culture Benefits Legal Education.
Legal education has been behind walls; one needs to be part of a school, and the knowledge is kept away from the broader public. Ultimately, we all have an obligation to understand the law and to follow the law. This is important because the legal processes that we all need to deal with can be some of the most complex issues that we come across in our lives. Therefore, it's important for everyone to understand what the system is like, how it works, what to expect, and when you need legal help. So, the more educational resources that are available, the better it is for the average person because it allows them to understand the way the legal system works.
3. Improvement Of Access To Justice.
Another significant issue is free access to law, which is a popular topic these days. It began with the Cornell Legal Information Institute (LII) in 1992. The LII is a non-profit that provides free access to current American and international legal resources online. Since then, there has been The Free Access to the Law Movement (FALM) all around the world, which is the idea that people should have access to the laws that govern them. The internet provides a great tool to enable access to the law.
An open culture will enhance lawyers and the legal system by enabling lawyers to see problems from even more perspectives, leading to innovative solutions. This allows other professionals, such as designers and technologists, to be more integrally involved within the system. That is why it is important to have free access to law and be part of a community which shares the value of openness.
About the Author
Inna Ptitsyna is the PR Manager at Lawrina, the legal portal that provides free access to U.S. law and builds a community around lawyers. She is also an ambassador at the Legal Hackers— international community that explores and develops creative solutions at the intersection of law and technology.