Tech Competence Isn’t Everything: Soft Skills Matter

I often blog about tech competence.

One of my earliest posts was Competence Includes Tech Competence.  A search of “tech competence” on this blog produces a lot of posts.  3 of the 4 most-read posts have tech competence tags:

Well, let me tell you something: tech competence ain’t everything.

Earlier tonight, I was checking out Above the Law (woohoo!) and stumbled across a great post from Michael McDonald: Soft Skills Still Matter for Attorneys.

As I read about the so-called “soft skills,” I was reminded of a book I read long ago: Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell.  I had a vague recollection of Gladwell writing that nice doctors are less likely to be sued for malpractice than doctors who have poor bedside manners.

So, I did a quick search.  Sure enough, I found Why doctors get sued on The Ethical Nag. (great name for a blog!)  The post references Gladwell’s Blink.

Then I found a piece by Aaron E. Carroll in the New York Times: To Be Sued Less, Doctors Should Consider Talking to Patients More.  Carroll wrote:

  • “Learning to be better communicators, and to be better at — in essence — customer service is no small task for physicians. But improving those skills might actually make a difference in whether they are sued.”

And that gets me back to another reason that soft skills still matter for attorneys, one not mentioned by Michael McDonald.  Effective communication, a soft-skill, helps minimize the chances of having a disciplinary complaint filed against you.

A week after I posted my first blog on tech competence, I posted Great Expectations.  It’s a post in which I argue that the “hot topic in legal ethics” is what it always has been and always will be: communicating clear expectations about the representation and managing those expectations throughout.

Earlier this year, I followed up with Client Communication & Cool Hand Luke. For those of you unfamiliar with the movie, I guarantee you’ve heard one of its most famous lines. Readers after my own heart will recognize the line not from the film, but as the intro to GNR’s Civil War.

Anyhow, it’s not all tech competence.  Soft skills matter.  Develop, hone, & use them.

PS: The most read post in this blog’s history?  For some crazy reason, this one.