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How Analytical Thinking equips Legal Practitioners for Success

1. Clarification

"Most arguments which pretend to be about law are actually arguments about the correct analysis and categorisation of the facts. Once you've understood them it's usually obvious what the answer is. That's why the study of something involving the analysis of evidence . or a subject close to pure logic . is at least as valuable a preparation as the study of law." Supreme Court Justice Lord Sumption (Counsel, July 2012)

Analytical thinking provides a framework for achieving such clarification systematically and being able to communicate it coherently to others.

2. Rigorous Scrutiny

You need to be certain of case facts and confident that expert evidence is solid enough to withstand cross-examination. Or you need to identify weaknesses and recognise potentially incomplete evidence in order to defend your clients' best interests. For both types of need, effective risk assessment also means you can plan for successful outcomes far more than just avoiding uncertainties.

Either way, you need to consider systematically both written documents and experts, and be capable of questioning paperwork and people alike. Even experienced solicitors and barristers can sometimes find sustaining the required level of concentrated scrutiny is challenging within punishingly demanding schedules.

How can you better formulate questions to put to an expert witness to determine the thoroughness and certainty of their contribution to the case? How do you get under the surface of figures and assertions blandly quoted in reports? Analytical thinking training provides answers and tools.

3. Efficient Teamwork

If, as a solicitor, you request the help of a barrister to prepare questions then accurate and full understanding of information allows the proposal of precise wordings and structured sequences of questions ahead of case conferences and solicitor-barrister/RoA correspondence. An enhanced level of questioning ability is critical to time-efficient and effective case development both individually and alongside colleagues.

Within the law firm, enhancing analytical thinking skills provides a corporate efficiency with high quality clear communication to other staff/departments/offices first time. If information is fully and correctly analysed for conclusions and recommendations then partners and other senior solicitors are freed from micromanaging information processing to work strategically instead - a far better use of time. It is also highly practical for those in supervisory and mentoring positions with newly appointed trainees and inexperienced staff.

The discipline of analytical thinking provides a (literally) profitable leap forward in corporate productivity even as it develops and maintains best practices.

4. Professional Challenge

Solicitors may have gained rights of audience but going up against experienced barristers may still prove something of a battle. Barristers, typically spending a much higher proportion of their working lives in court or tribunal rather than in the office, have ample opportunity to fine-tune their cross-examination and critical thinking skills. The nature of their representative role means that they spend more time working to specific issues which have been largely pre-identified. Essentially, then, they spend more time on the construction of argument, and less on gathering and vetting raw information line-by-line.

Applying analytical skills for effective case preparation means that the solicitor with rights of audience has their information and witnesses in place; their questions, responses and 'killer' facts are better defined and ordered, and argument can therefore be focused, emphatic - and winning.

5. Client Satisfaction

Without strengthening analytical skills and related issues, failures to work through information and argument effectively will have to be picked up by colleagues (senior solicitors, those with rights of audience or barristers). This leads inevitably to delays and increased expense to the client and neither of these will be appreciated. Yet you really do need repeat demand and personal recommendations for your services in this highly competitive era of the Alternative Business Structure and marketing strategies.

Approaching a case with analytical thinking both promotes systematic checks and and stimulates ideas for questions you may need to formulate before consulting with colleagues, seeking out barristers' opinions or exercising Rights of Audience.

6. Easy to Introduce

Walk back to office and immediately start using analytical thinking tips and techniques with what is already on your 'to do' list. Our methods are all designed for the busy legal practitioner to 'plug in and use'.

Clear Thinking Clear Profit and CTCP (tm) are titles of a management consultancy and law training resource

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