Successful lawyers use a wide array of skills – from analytical thinking to networking to writing. Nebraska Law’s core curriculum is designed to teach you many of these skills through doctrinal, clinical, and other skills-focused courses. The Build Your Character (BYC) program is designed to help you continue to build these skills both inside the classroom and outside through your participation in various opportunities. Your coursework and opportunities such as externships, competitions, and student organization membership complement each other and allow you to enhance your strengths and build the skills you need to become a complete lawyer. Use these BYC tags to help you identify potential growth areas and to set goals; then, look for these tags when considering whether to take advantage of an opportunity presented.*
* The BYC skills are based on research presented in Predicting Lawyer Effectiveness: A New Assessment for Use in Law School Admission Decisions (2009) by Marjorie M. Shultz and Sheldon Zedeck and used with express permission from the authors.
Intellectual & Cognitive
Put simply: think like a lawyer. Participation in activities with the Intellectual & Cognitive tag are opportunities that will help you develop your critical thinking, information synthesizing, and problem-solving skills
Research & Information Gathering
You have spotted the issue, now what? You need to determine a course of action. More often than not this will include learning as much about the situation before you as possible and using a host of different resources to find answers or develop arguments.
Understanding the issue; being aware of emotions, dynamics, and circumstances surrounding the issue; and, using this understanding and awareness to work through a conflict to reach a desired outcome.
Client & Business Relations
The best business development strategy is to deliver exceptional service to the clients you already have. The ability to provide exceptional service goes far beyond simply delivering quality legal work product. It includes setting expectations, clear and consistent communication, and trust-building, among other things.
What good is it to understand a complex concept if you are unable to communicate it? Effective lawyers must be able to convey information to different audiences – clients, judges, juries, opposing counsel – in a variety of different forms. Understanding alone isn’t enough.
Working With Others
Can you effectively interact, cooperate, collaborate, and manage conflicts with other people in order to get things done? To do so, you’re going to need to understand the cultural background of the people with whom you interact, such as clients, co-workers, and opposing counsel, make decisions solo and jointly, express opinions and respect differing ones, and be flexible.
Planning & Organizing
There’s an answer due to the district court; a summary judgment brief is looming; your firm is swamped and needs to hire but you’re too busy to look at resumes; your new paralegal is completing work faster than you can assign it. And, that’s the just the beginning. Welcome to life as a lawyer. Proficiency in this BYC key is essential to not only your effectiveness but your happiness as a lawyer.
In the words of Dr. Seuss, “I am who I am.” Effective lawyers come in all different packages. Feed your passions, interests, and strengths to become the best “you” possible. Doing so will result in becoming an even more effective lawyer.