The Top Transferrable Skills That You Learn In Law School


There's no doubt that the primary purpose of law school is to train future attorneys.  Granted, some students enroll in law school with the hope of entering "business" or starting some other career.  Having said this, law students do learn transferrable skills that they can use regardless of their first job after graduation.  From my personal experience, there were several skills that I leveraged after graduation, the most notable being attention to detail and the ability to grind out work.

Attention to Detail

In law school, you quickly learn that you can’t skim through case law and expect to be prepared to answer your professors’ questions.  Instead, you have to pay attention to the details within your assigned reading since your professors will likely test you on specific facts and arguments.  For example, I would be frustrated when a professor questioned me about the factual details in a case because I thought the holding and legal justification were more important.  Yet this habit of paying attention to detail would serve me well during exams, as I would have to analyze discrete fact patterns within short periods of time.

Yes, it sucks at first to slow down and pay attention to the details.  1Ls are given heavy reading assignments each night.  But this skill is something that I relied on every day while in private practice.  There were many times where I would be reviewing evidence in a particular dispute and where several words (sometimes even one word) would affect my client’s strategy.  I truly believe that I would have missed some of these details if I hadn’t had practice in law school.

Grinding Out Work

Beyond this, a critical, yet underrated skill is the ability to put your head down and complete work.  Even if you’re tired, stressed, or simply bored with the material, you will have no choice but to complete your work to the best of your ability.  I discovered this quickly during my 1L year.  I was not particularly interested in civil procedure or property law, yet I had no choice but to grind out the work and prepare myself for exams.  I leveraged this same skill when preparing for certain portions of the bar exam.  The stakes only get higher after the bar exam, as clients are paying you to deliver top-notch legal advice.

In those moments where you’re not exactly inspired to work, you’ll need to find a way to motivate yourself.  As just one example, fear of failure can give you an extra boost of energy.  This was especially true for me as I prepared for the bar exam.  Separately, you may feel inspired to work since you realize you’ll need to pay off six figures of law school debt.  However you motivate yourself, it’s extremely beneficial to learn how to grind out work when you’re not feeling one hundred percent.