By Ashley Bond, CFCC Student Fellow 2015-2016
“Once you get out of law school, you’ll realize that you never learned a thing about how to be a lawyer. You just learned the law.” My supervising attorney stated this during my first legal internship. At the time, I knew that he was referring to such topics as “how to write a pleading” and “how to run your own practice.” Now, however, I’ve begun to interpret his words with a new meaning. Law schools may also be lacking in the subject of soft skills.
Throughout my time in law school, I have often heard classmates describe themselves or other colleagues as “Type-A.” This term, coined by Friedman and Rosenman, describes people with personality traits such as competitiveness, time urgency, and hostility.  There is no doubt that many of these characteristics are extremely beneficial in the practice of the law. In fact, the kind of work ethic exhibited by a Type-A personality is praised in such a competitive field. When preparing for a career in which one is of service to their clients, shouldn’t other skills be emphasized? Perhaps law schools would better prepare their graduates if they required each student to take a “soft skills” course.
Soft skills include the patience necessary to listen to a frantic client, the empathy necessary to understand your client’s viewpoint, and the communication skills necessary to convey complex legal concepts to an emotional client who may not understand a thing about the law. These are skills that for some may come naturally but for others may take practice. They are skills that often clash with Type-A personality traits.
Studies show that the top-performing lawyers have higher competencies than other lawyers in areas such as stress management, self-knowledge, problem solving, and interpersonal competencies.  Additionally, practicing lawyers consider soft skills as essential to lawyering as legal skills.  If this is true, shouldn’t law schools emphasize these skills, as well?
The Sayra and Neil Meyerhoff Center for Families, Children and the Courts (CFCC) Student Fellows Program takes this approach at the University of Baltimore School of Law. Professor Barbara Babb and CFCC staff teach each Student Fellow to utilize our soft skills when speaking to Baltimore City public school students participating in CFCC’s Truancy Court Program. As a member of the Truancy Court Program team, I look forward to using this experience to develop my soft skills. Further, I urge other law students to join the Student Fellows Program, or any other similar program, to help them develop their soft skills.
 Type A Personality
 The Soft Skills of Lawyering.