No matter what you do, investing in your personal development – and seeing the results of these investments – is the best way to ensure career growth. The math is simple – when your ability increases, your value increases. When your value increases as a professional, you get more leverage in providing service. There is more bargaining power, more interested customers/clients, and, consequently, more earnings. Personal development is the ultimate bargaining power in career growth, which obviously speaks to why it must be taken seriously.
The 10,000 Hours rule suggests that you become an expert at something by doing it – and doing it well – for 10,000 hours. The idea is that if you perform the same category of professional service consistently, you get more familiar with the service. You become more in tune with the possible mistakes that could be made after making a few of them yourself, which allows you to prevent them from happening subsequently. You are also able to figure out the other concerns of your clients/customers. The concerns which they did not notice before. In simpler words, your level of expertise increases, and you have a solid hold on your craft.
For lawyers, the case is no different. Although the specific tasks of lawyers depend on the type of case at hand, the general practice of law becomes more familiar to lawyers as they continue to practice over a considerable period of time. What makes this more realistic is the fact that lawyers choose certain areas of specialties, as their practice advances. Therefore, lawyers who decide to specialize in criminal litigation will gradually divert most of their attention to that area, with the same situation applying to other areas of law. This is the slight difference when it comes to career growth and development in the legal profession.
In this article, our focus will be on drafting routine legal documents, and how lawyers can use this exercise in developing themselves. How exactly does it happen?
Drafting documents is almost synonymous with being a lawyer. Whether you draft manually or include the use of legal document drafting software, it is important to draft documents to the best of your ability as a professional.
With almost every activity being performed by lawyers, drafting a certain type of document is necessary. When a client intends to open a business, you must draft and file the business formation documents to make that happen. When your client or your client’s business intends to enter a transaction, the duty is on you a legal representative to ensure the creation of a document that contains the rights, obligations, and entitlement of both parties, while protecting the interests of your own clients. In other words, a contract. In defending your client(s) in a criminal case, you are most likely obligated to draft a document from at least the beginning of the proceedings till the verdict is given, with the most important being the documents containing your arguments. The same goes for civil cases. Lawyers in a law firm also receive memos periodically (written by their superiors or colleagues). Lawyers also must draft legal opinions when requested by clients. The list is practically endless.
But what do routine legal documents mean, and how do they make lawyers better?
ROUTINE LEGAL DOCUMENTS
Going straight to the point, there is barely any group of documents that are generally categorized as routine legal documents. What a particular lawyer drafts on a consistent basis are what is routine to them. When we consider the fact that lawyers have different areas of specialization, it becomes clear that routine is relative, and what applies to one lawyer will likely not be routine for a colleague. However, individual lawyers still have what can be considered routine to them, and in this article, we will simply focus on that.
For every lawyer, there are certain documents or types of documents that they get to draft more than others. This hugely depends on what they do. Litigation attorneys are most likely to draft motions, briefs, and claims on an almost routine basis. At some point in their careers, corporate lawyers will almost start to have contracts and transactions for breakfast. Lawyers who specialize in research will have an almost uncountable number of legal opinions under their belt.
But how does having a routine category of legal documents help in improving the general abilities of a lawyer after a period of time?
Lawyers write. This means that if you can write better, you are, to that extent, a better lawyer for it. This is the first and primary way by which drafting routine legal documents can make a person a “better lawyer”. When your writing skills improve, you pass clearer messages to anyone who reads your documents, which increases your chances of achieving your intentions behind creating the document.
Writing is essentially a form of communication. Letters and memos may be the primary documents for communicating with others, but as long as you do not plan to read your documents all by yourself, you are communicating, regardless of what you write. Communicating properly on paper also improves how well you pass messages across verbally. As your writing improves, your mind is subconsciously being trained on how to be more understandable. People who listen when you speak will likely notice the improvement too. This helps with client communication and counseling in lawyers.
On a general note, modern-day lawyers use technology for many of their drafting tasks. Even lawyers who belong to older generations have been forced to include digital technology in their practice – to an extent, at least. Most of them eventually fall in line after seeing the benefits of legal tech in the output quality of other lawyers, or when they are mandated by their law firms. Nowadays, it is literally one of the most effective ways to reduce daily stress factors. Legal software platforms like Loio, among others, contain useful information on legal tech resources and their uses. Using legal tech to draft on a regular basis will increase your awareness of the existing tech resources, and how to use them in increasing your writing quality.
Our discussion above has explored the fact that continuous efforts in any endeavor are the only practical method of attaining mastery. In addition, the legal profession has no defined group of documents globally recognized as “routine legal documents.” It all depends on what you draft on a regular basis as a lawyer. Most importantly, staying committed to drafting these documents to the best of your ability will positively affect other areas of your career as well.