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Outstanding problem-solving skills
Do you have the mental agility and intellectual rigour to analyse problems and apply this analysis to develop novel, unexpected solutions?
The problems you face can be large or small, simple or complex, and easy or difficult to solve. Regardless of the nature of the problems, a fundamental part of every trainee lawyer’s role is finding ways to solve them. So, being a confident problem solver will really important to your success a trainee lawyer.
Much of that confidence comes from having a good process to use when approaching a problem. There are various methodologies which you could use to improve your ‘problem solving’ ability: the ‘Mindtools’ website http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTMC_00.htm. With a consistent method, you can solve problems quickly and effectively. Without one, your solutions may be ineffective, or you’ll get stuck and do nothing, with sometimes painful consequences.
There are four basic steps in problem solving:
1. Defining the problem.
2. Generating alternatives.
3. Evaluating and selecting alternatives.
4. Implementing solutions.
Steps 2 to 4 of this process are covered in depth in other areas of Mind Tools. For these, see our sections on Creativity for step 2 (generating alternatives); Decision Making for step 3 (evaluating and selecting alternatives); and Project Management for step 4 (implementing solutions).
Are you naturally inquisitive with an openness to new ideas and the initiative to turn them into practical results? Initiative is often misunderstood because it is simply not about meeting performance goals or targets; it’s often about going the extra mile. Initiative may be about identifying a need and championing a solution for the benefit of the law firm, without being asked to do so. Initiative involves a sense of responsibility for the company’s well-being and a few guiding principles. Initiative is about taking steps to make the law firm better, and not about wasting time tackling unimportant matters. To make the distinction, try determining the impact a certain action would make on your team’s performance, the company’s bottom-line or the company’s long-term vision. An excellent, friendly, article on showing initiative is here, http://uk.askmen.com/money/professional_100/137_professional_life.html.