Do you ever get nervous about what lies after law school? Being a practicing attorney requires an array of skills to be successful. A Short & Happy Guide to Being a Lawyer, by Kenny F. Hegland & Paul D. Bennett, discusses some of the most important characteristics that a new attorney should work to possess.
This guide is divided into three parts. Part one discusses “skills for all seasons,” or skills that lawyers generally need. Some of the skills discussed are life skills like being nice to other people, but some are more specific. One important skill is being a good story teller. This book emphasizes the effects that having strong openings and closings can have, as well as using descriptive words. Another skill addressed is how to work with difficult situations such as a client’s desire to lie to make his case look better or a client’s faulty memory.
Part two of the guide talks about skills used in practice. These include client interviewing and counseling, investigating, depositions, negotiation and deal making, and legal writing. This section includes a lot of the practical details that law students may be wondering about such as how to build rapport with a client or how do deal with someone that is rude in a deposition.
Finally, part three of the guide is about skills for the courtroom. There is a lot of information in this section and it covers many topics. The importance of preparation is really emphasized here and is a theme in most of the subdivisions, including planning and strategies, preparing the witness, and practicing questions. There are other subdivisions that are more about strategy such as when to use your objections and going about a cross examination.
This guide provides a window into the real world of being a practicing attorney for law students, and a useful guide to new lawyers. I highly recommend it for students who are nearing graduation, or for anyone who would like a real world look at what skills go into being a successful attorney.