Taking soft skills seriously

Taking soft skills seriously

The SRA’s shift away from CPD to a new regime of Continuing Competence provides the perfect opportunity consider what it takes to succeed as a lawyer. This post will consider so-called ‘soft skills’ and why, as a legal professional, you cannot ignore them.

What are soft skills – and why should I care?

The term ‘soft skills’ is somewhat elusive and can be difficult to define. It is most easily explained in the negative: those skills beyond the technical (hard) skills required for a role. Such skills range from effective listening to time management. Yet, despite the difficulty in pinning down the definition of soft skills, they are highly important: a recent report pegged the value of such skills to the UK economy at a whopping £88bn.

Within the legal profession, the SRA has acknowledged this value by including soft skills in its Competence Statement, which sets out competence requirements for all solicitors. In fact, whilst technical skills form one area of competence, soft skills comprise the remaining three: ethics, professionalism and judgment; working with other people; and managing yourself and others. The SRA’s message is clear: technical skills alone are insufficient to succeed as a lawyer – to be competent, you must have soft skills.

However, soft skills are important for lawyers not only for the purpose of being declared professionally competent, but also because they add genuine value for those who are looking to develop a successful

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