There are many highly skilled lawyers who have little or no business. You may know some of them. I certainly do. I know they can become successful at client development by working on it.
Here is the interesting thing: In 2020 in part because of COVID and the economy, law firms have cut back on training and developing their lawyers’ “people skills” and other “soft skills.” Has your firm cut back?
I believe that learning “people skills” is even more important now because eventually your lawyers will be able to meet with clients in person. I also fear that kids who have not been to school in person since March are missing out on learning how to interact with classmates.
Law firms spend a substantial amount of money for CLE and development of substantive legal skills. They do it primarily because their State Bar requires a certain number of CLE hours for lawyers to remain active in the Bar. Law firms spend very little to develop soft skills. Why? In part, because the State Bar does not require it. In other words, training and development costs are not spent to help firm lawyers be better lawyers and be more valuable to clients.
What are soft skills? According to a Wikipedia article:
Soft Skills are behavioral competencies. Also known as Interpersonal Skills, or people skills, they include proficiencies such as communication skills, conflict resolution and negotiation, personal effectiveness, creative problem solving, strategic thinking, team building, influencing skills and selling skills, to name a few.
Is your firm helping your next generation of lawyers become proficient in any of those “soft skills.” If not wouldn’t it make sense to invest in them? While you will never be able to directly measure the return on your people skills investment, I happen to believe the return will be substantially greater than your return on your CLE investment.
P.S. When I finished writing this, I did a search and found an interesting 2017 article I want to share with you. Read 10 Things They Don’t Teach You in Law School (But Should).