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Hannah Gannagé-Stewart

Deputy Editor, Solicitors Journal

Solicitors 'blind' to their failings

Solicitors 'blind' to their failings


Solicitors are often “blind to their own individual failings” in core areas of legal provision, according to a report. The LexisNexis Bellwether Report, The good solicitor’s skill set, found that although the respondent solicitors identified the key elements of what makes a successful solicitor – human, legal, and business skills – only 48 per cent felt the ability to generate business is a vital skill. Just 35 per cent said entrepreneurial skills are a priority, while substantially less than half of the sample thought that service industry skills are important. Of the top five attributes identified as a top priority for a good solicitor, four of them – common sense (89 per cent), inspiring trust (87 per cent), a willingness to listen (84 per cent), and avoiding legal jargon (81 per cent) – are human skills. The most important skill required for being a solicitor, according to respondents, is the ability to identify the central problem and zero in on what the client really wants (91 per cent).

Other legal skills appearing in the top 10 included efficient case management (79 per cent) and proactive communication (76 per cent). The study, which surveyed 176 solicitors found that though solicitors consider business skills, in the abstract, to be of critical importance to success; when questioned further, they viewed many of the individual business skills as less essential – or just “nice to have”. “There appears to be a blind spot with regards to the skills our respondents perceive as necessary to be a successful solicitor,” the report says. “Report author Jon Whittle, market development director at LexisNexis, said players active in the independent legal market are alive to the possibilities of what makes a successful, thriving solicitor. However, in several key areas “they are seemingly unconcerned with claiming the specific skills necessary for success by making them a top priority moving forwards”. He said: “There is a sense that solicitors can see the problems in the profession, and in their own practices, but they are blocked from making changes themselves. “The path to success is visible to them; they’re just not able to clear some of the hurdles in their way. After all, not all obstacles look like challenges at first glance.” He added: “With the changes to the SRA Handbook coming in November of this year opening up the market to nonlaw firms it is more critical than ever that law firms and individual solicitors take a long, hard look at what really drives success. The time when to do nothing was an option is rapidly disappearing.”