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Nicola Laver

Editor, Solicitors Journal

Big Law Summit: the right skills will drive survival of the fittest

Big Law Summit: the right skills will drive survival of the fittest


Chrissie Wolfe told lawyers that with the right skillset and creating human connections with clients, tomorrow's lawyers will succeed

Personal injury lawyer Chrissie Wolfe has told lawyers that with the right skillset and creating human connections with clients, tomorrow’s lawyers will succeed.

Speaking on the second day of The Big Law Summit on the skillset of the future lawyer, the Irwin Mitchell solicitor and vlogger at Law and Broader, said people skills are “by far the most important skill”.

“Law is fundamentally a human business”, she commented. “Robots will never replace lawyers.”

Wolfe explained that the skillset required of a lawyer depends in part on the kind of lawyer in mind, which highlights how often lawyers are “generalised into a group of lawyers who are the same or very similar and how far from the truth that is”.

With so many different types of lawyer, she said “the skill set required for each one is wildly different depending on what type of environment that lawyer is working in and the type of client they are serving”.

“You can no more define the skillset of a future lawyer than you can the skillset of the future human being, because we are so diverse”, she added.

Though lawyers are, essentially, problem solvers she warned that there is “way too much competition in the market now to simply do your job to be good enough to survive the evolution of the legal services market”.

“You need to market and deliver your services in a way that is favourable and desirable to your clients and create a model for selling those services which ultimately enables you to make a profit”.

If you don’t, “you’re certainly not going to survive”, she warned.

So what, according to Wolfe, are the skills that the standout lawyers of the future will have – “the fittest ones who will not only survive the evolution of the legal services market but actually will be materially responsible for driving that evolution or revolution”?

The key skills include commercial awareness/business acumen (understanding your own business and that of your clients); having the flexibility to survive in a volatile environment; and marketing, which is key to securing your client relationship.

“There is no better marketeer for your services than you”, Wolfe stressed.

On the issue of legal services delivery, which has evolved rapidly in recent years – there are now numerous delivery models.

“Technology is a big factor”, noted Wolfe, “and having an understanding of applications of technology in law is important.”

Internal efficiency is key along with “design thinking – constantly thinking how you can improve things and make things better for your clients, how you can do something differently; looking at what your competitors are doing; at what other industries are doing  and looking at how you can massively improve your business”.

As Wolfe observed: “That innate feeling of constantly wanting to improve is absolutely key to any successful lawyer.”

But people skills are, she stressed, by far the most important skill.

And while uptake of technology has increasingly exponentially in the last few years, “it is designed to help and assist us, it is not designed to replace us”.

“Fundamentally”, Wolfe added, “securing business will come down to creating a very human connection with your clients and that is the connection that will last; and keep that business coming back.”

Big Law Summit is taking place for the first time this week. The three-day virtual conference includes 28 speakers and 25 workshops. For access to the content archive and remaining sessions, visit: