It takes much more than legal skill to become a successful lawyer. Soft skills and business acumen are just as important to your career, yet these topics are rarely, if ever, taught in law school. If you want to improve these abilities, the onus is on you to make it happen.
Luckily, you don’t have to go back to school for a business degree or risk making a career misstep by learning as you go. Online courses are the perfect way to enhance skills like networking, influencing, and time management on your own schedule. While learning more about these topics is certainly worthwhile: they’re also the key to jumpstarting your career and putting you on track to make partner.
Online classes, which allow you to learn at your own pace at any time of day, are perfect for young lawyers with demanding and sometimes unpredictable schedules. It’s easy to squeeze in a few minutes of learning during your commute, over the weekend or whenever you have downtime at the office. Many courses also include videos and materials that you can access forever, so you can return to them at any time for a refresher.
One of the best sources for online classes is LinkedIn Learning, formerly known as Lynda. The website has hundreds of expert-taught classes, many of which are relevant for young lawyers. LinkedIn Learning is associated with your existing LinkedIn account, so the website offers personalized recommendations based on your industry and skill set, and it’s easy to use the search function to find additional courses.
Best of all, LinkedIn learning offers a free, month-long trial before you commit to a subscription, which includes access to every course on the site. Most companies will happily sponsor a premium LinkedIn account which provides access to LinkedIn Learning so don’t be afraid to ask your boss to upgrade.
If you’d like to try taking an online class from LinkedIn Learning, here are six of our favorites for lawyers.
What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School
Based on entrepreneur Mark H. McCormack’s 1984 best-seller What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School, this course breaks down the book into bite-size pieces that you can listen to any time, anywhere. Viewers learn how to make good first impressions, manage their time, and understand the basics of sales, all with McCormack’s guidance.
At only 13 minutes long, this is a short but useful course that you could easily get through during a lunch break. What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School is a quick introduction to important business principles, which you can then learn more about through reading or additional online classes.
Body Language for Leaders
Body language says much more than we could ever say with words. Learn how to harness the power of your nonverbal communication with this course, hosted by business consultant and workplace body language expert Carol Kinsey Goman. You’ll learn the six nonverbal signals for a good first impression; how to align your body language with what you say; and how to convey confidence, among other topics. The 51-minute course is broken down into five units, each concluding with a quiz to test your knowledge.
Body language is one of the keys to establishing yourself as a leader, so this course is a must-watch for anyone with dreams of becoming partner. It’s already been taken by more than 1.5 million people, so you know the content has to be good.
Persuasion can have a negative connotation, but all it means is making sure your best ideas get equal consideration from your peers. Learn how to persuade clients, colleagues and opposing counsel with Persuading Others, a 33-minute course taught by communications and personal branding expert Dorie Clark.
Clark covers three areas: how to be seen as immediately persuasive when meeting new people; how to ramp up your persuasion abilities with those you already know; and how to communicate authoritatively and enhance your skills as an influencer. The videos are available offline, so you can watch them on the go, even when you don’t have wi-fi. And you should watch Persuading Others—it’s a course that has far-reaching benefits for both your professional and personal life.
Taken by many people in conjunction with Persuading Others, Influencing Others is a 41-minute course taught by John Ullmen, an executive coach and professor at the UCLA Anderson School of Management. He brings a scientific approach to the class, explaining how to influence others using 18 scientifically confirmed methods.
The course begins with a unit on building a mindset and habits for influence, then moves on to 10 techniques you can use to influence others. This course is especially helpful for lawyers, who need to influence judges, juries, and colleagues on a daily basis. And, certainly, the power of influence can be very useful for approaching potential clients.
Leading with Emotional Intelligence
No matter how logical you consider yourself to be, every law firm is full of emotions and office politics. If you don’t know how to handle them, you’ll quickly run into problems with your peers and clients. Increase productivity, work satisfaction, and professional relationships with Leading with Emotional Intelligence, an hour-long course taught by Dr. Britt Andreatta, an expert on the brain science of success.
The course will teach you how to raise your emotional quotient (“EQ”), develop empathy, and exercise emotional self-control. You’ll learn about the brain science behind emotional intelligence and how to respond to your and others’ feelings. This is a very popular course that’s been taken by professionals from IBM, Ernst & Young, the U.S. Army and, of course, major law firms.
Thriving @ Work: Leveraging the Connection between Well-Being and Productivity
Being a lawyer is one of the most stressful jobs there is. Learn how to reduce your stress levels, find greater well-being and increase productivity from the leading expert on work-life balance: Arianna Huffington. In this 41-minute course, she’ll teach you how to follow through with change, know your boundaries, and work toward your strengths.
By the end of the class, you’ll identify ways to increase energy, set limits to prevent overworking and create better relationships with your colleagues. These are crucial skills for any lawyer, and this online course is a convenient way to learn them.