How to Succeed in Law: Practical Tips for New Lawyers | The College of Law  New Zealand Careers Directory

You’ve finished your law degree. You’ve breezed through practical legal training. You’ve signed the roll of solicitors. At last, the day you’ve worked years for has come – you’re a lawyer. So, what next? How do you translate all those years of hard learned law into a successful legal career? It’s a question commonly asked by students at the College of Law. In response, the College of Law has written an eBook guide to thriving as a lawyer, featuring 10 practical tips for new lawyers.

The ebook covers some of these topics and more. Download your copy for the full ebook.

Find a mentor, and don’t be afraid to ask questions

No lawyer starts their career knowing all the answers. The key is to ask good questions which reflect the fact that you have attempted to research and find the answer for yourself. A mentor can be an ideal person to whom you could pose career or legal questions; as mentor relationships can exist independently of your workplace, it can be a safe space to ask what might seem like foolish questions. Mentors are also an excellent source of contacts, and more importantly, only agreed to be your mentor because they are passionate about your progress. Formal mentoring programs can exist within a law firm, or as part of your local legal professional body. However, you can also form your own mentor relationships – if you meet someone you find inspiring, approach them! The worst that can happen is that they are too busy to assist.

Forget work-life balance, but be kind to yourself

Lawyer hours are notoriously long. So long, in fact, that perhaps it’s best to embrace the idea that work and life are not mutually exclusive. Indeed, they exist as part of a whole life – your whole life. Achieving balance is less about an unsustainable ‘work hard, play hard’ lifestyle, and more about enjoying what you do while also dedicating quality time to your loved ones, and looking after yourself through rest, exercise, and downtime.

It’s an approach that is fundamentally being kind to yourself. As a new lawyer, you’re likely to make mistakes. However, as well-trained pessimists, lawyers are often far too hard on themselves for making mistakes. Instead, reframe your mistake as a necessary lesson, one learned by countless lawyers before you. As long as you learn and consistently improve, it was a mistake well worth making.

Negotiate like a pro

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Negotiating on behalf of your client is part of every lawyer’s day-to-day workload. Doing so effectively requires you to develop emotional intelligence and empathy, two skills not easily taught. To succeed as a negotiator, keep in mind that it is crucial to be ‘hard on the problem’, but ‘soft on the people’. In other words, be firm about your client’s position without making it personal for the person sitting across the negotiating table. Be courteous and collaborative as a negotiator; after all, settling a situation in the negotiation room is likely to be a lot more amicable and less expensive for your client than taking a case to court.

Master practical legal skills, including advocacy and drafting

Other bread and butter activities of a lawyer include advocacy and drafting. Persuasion lies at the heart of good advocacy. Be structured, succinct and engaging. Support your arguments with well-chosen exhibits. Above all, prepare thoroughly. Preparation makes presentation simple.

Drafting, for example, a statutory declaration, could be regarded as a written extension of verbal advocacy. In addition to delivering succinct and well-supported arguments, it is essential to avoid exaggerating any facts – a common trap for new lawyers.

Manage your time, and record all you do

The six-minute billable unit is the bane of every lawyer. To avoid it becoming a source of stress or dissatisfaction with your work, have a system in place to record all you do, assigned to the correct client or administrative task. Starting every day with a clear to do list will help you manage your time – and help you leave on time. Remember to also record time spent on PLT or CPD, as well as ad hoc time spent representing the firm at careers fairs (under ‘marketing’) or supervising a seasonal clerk (under ‘mentoring’). These records will prove handy when it comes to performance reviews, as they reflect a well-rounded new lawyer.

Traits of Great Lawyers

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What makes a great lawyer? Is it intelligence, good people skills, effective writing? Of course, we must have a certain level of intelligence and motivation, along with experience and opportunities. But the truth is, the traits that transform a good lawyer into a great lawyer may not be the ones you think.

Here are five traits that make a lawyer — or any person — stand above the rest. Cultivating these traits provides the opportunity to really understand the issues and offer effective solutions.

1. Compassion: One of the Many Qualities of a Lawyer

Compassion is an emotional response whereby one perceives another’s problem and authentically, genuinely wants to help resolve the problem. This is part of what lawyers do: People come to us with their problems, or to avoid future problems, and we help resolve or avoid the issues, whichever the case may be. If you practice business law, tax law or in any area that is not particularly “emotional,” you may not think that compassion is important to your practice. But it is. The compassionate lawyer focuses on how others feel and is accepting of their perspective, whether or not he ultimately agrees with it.

Compassion is the foundation for good people skills. Without compassion, you cannot put yourself in your client’s shoes or fully understand the issues your client faces. Without compassion, you cannot understand your adversary’s position, anticipate what she will do, and take pre-emptive steps to benefit your client. Without it, you cannot provide the best solutions.

2. Ability to Listen

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Effective communication skills are essential to good lawyering. One of the most important aspects of communication is listening. Of course, what we say, how we say it and when we say it are important. But we can only do it right if we listen first. Listen to your clients. Listen to your adversaries, your colleagues and the judges. As lawyers, we must take in much information, analyze and synthesize it, and exercise good judgment to provide advice to our clients. It starts with listening.

3. Assertiveness, Not Aggressiveness

I often hear people say, “She’s not aggressive enough to be an effective lawyer.” That’s not right. You don’t need to be aggressive — though you must be assertive. Assertive lawyers state their opinions and make themselves heard while remaining respectful of others. Aggressive lawyers attack or ignore others’ opinions in favor of their own.

Much like those who lack compassion, overly aggressive lawyers cannot understand another’s position when it varies from their client’s position. That makes them ineffective at understanding the problem and thus incapable of providing an effective solution. Even more detrimental, overly aggressive lawyers act without respect for others. This damages interpersonal relationships, ultimately leading to an uncooperative environment that makes resolution or agreement impossible.

4. Creativity

We need to be creative to find real solutions to the issues our clients face. Each matter is unique; each client must be handled differently, and each solution carefully crafted. While on the whole we lawyers are a rather risk-averse group, we must learn to think outside the box. The best way to create unique solutions is to approach each situation with compassionate listening, which enables you to really understand the issues and what the client and the adversary need. That level of understanding can lead to long-lasting solutions that work for all interested parties. Stalemates often arise when opposing counsel fails to approach the matter with compassionate listening and, instead, becomes unnecessarily aggressive. Don’t be that deal-breaker.

5. Perseverance

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Success is achieved with perseverance. We must keep working, keep trying and keep going. We must be able to walk away when things are not working, take a break and come back fresh and ready to “fight,” negotiate, or whatever the matter requires.

Now go out there and be one of those great lawyers!

10 Important Lawyer Skills and How to Develop Them

Working in law naturally requires a certain skill set, especially if you want to be successful. In this blog post, we list the core lawyer skills you need, and how exactly you can work on them.

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1. Teamwork

By no means exclusive to law, the ability to work in a team is essential to any job. In a team, basic skills of respect and empathy become essential and those who lack the ability to listen and take on board the opinions of others will find themselves out of step.

If people enjoy working with you, they will want to do so again and recommend you to others; undoubtedly the best way to progress in your career.

How to develop this skill: Getting involved in teams and societies at school and university is a great way to have fun and make friends and you will gain valuable teamwork skills without even noticing it!

2. Initiative and Independence

While teamwork is fundamental to success, it is also essential that you can be decisive when the situation demands it.

As a trainee lawyer, you will be given responsibility and you must rise to that, devising your own solutions to problems rather than relying only on others. That does not mean that you must struggle alone, taking initiative includes the ability to know when to ask questions or to ask for help.

How to develop this skill: This is a skill that can be developed at any point – think about a time when you’ve had to make a difficult decision on your own, whether it be due to coursework or a conversation with a friend.

3. Creative Problem Solving

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People often consider the law a profession void of creativity but the opposite is true. The answer to a client’s problem may not be obvious and your job will be to explore new avenues, arguments, and ideas to achieve the desired result.

How to develop this skill: Work experience of any kind will work wonders in developing problem-solving skills, it needn’t only be in the legal field. Problems are unavoidable wherever you work and the more experience you have of the issues which arise, the better prepared you will be.

4. Written Communication Skills

A lot of your work as a lawyer will involve writing, it’s unavoidable. You’ll draft documents, write letters to clients, draw up contracts among other things.

Typos and Grammatical errors will undermine your work, while a fluent and articulate writing style will give clients confidence in you.

How to develop this skill: You will naturally develop your own writing style as you write essays for school or university but if you don’t study an essay-based subject, then it may help to get some practice writing for a school or uni magazine or even running your own blog! You can also write for The Lawyer Portal, which looks great on the CV.

Learn more about writing for TLP here >>

5. Verbal Communication Skills

If you’re hoping to become a barrister then verbal communication is perhaps the most vital element of your job. Your role is to communicate your arguments in such a way as to persuade your judge or jury of the merits of your case.

It’s also not something you can avoid as a solicitor; client meetings, phone calls and presentations will make up your day-to-day.

How to develop this skill: Speaking in public is something that a lot of people struggle with but there are all sorts of ways to practice and combat fears. Getting involved in theatre or debating will develop skills like projection and pace while techniques such as meditation can help deal with nerves.

You can also take part in one of TLP’s mock trials to improve your advocacy skills. 

10 Public Speaking Tips Straight From the Experts >>

6. Work Under Pressure

A legal career is by no means an easy one and you will often be expected to turn around large amounts of work under tight deadlines; being able to stay calm and focused is critical.

How to develop this skill: Setting yourself personal deadlines before the official ones will ensure that you complete tasks on time and factor in time to handle any issues which may arise.

Make timetables and plans so you’re able to manage your time effectively and can prioritize the most important tasks. These are all tricks you can practice on essay deadlines too!

7. Commercial Awareness

Commercial awareness crops up everywhere and essentially means having a broad understanding of current affairs and business news and how developments are likely to affect the firm and its clients.

How to develop this skill: Sign up for our weekly commercial awareness newsletter:

8. Understanding People

Lawyers first and foremost are providing a service to their clients and your practice should be geared towards their needs. This involves listening and taking time to understand their individual concerns.

It is rare that clients will have a detailed knowledge of the law, that is why they come to you, so it is also critical that you’re able to explain matters in terms they understand rather than using overly technical language.

How to develop this skill: The more work experience you can get facing customers and dealing with people in any capacity, the better you’ll be at listening and adapting your communication style to suit everyone.

9. Attention to Detail

A lawyer will always be faced with large and sometimes unclear documents and the ability to spot key pieces of information is essential. It may be that you’re looking for evidence to support your case or proofreading a contract were missing detail can derail the whole task.

How to develop this skill: Take your time when reading documents, work on staying focused; these are all skills you can pick up simply from reading books or articles!

10. Research Skills/Preparation

Nothing looks more unprofessional than a lack of preparation and it will always weaken your position. Dedicate time to the preparation and use a variety of resources. If you are preparing for an interview, for example, use the firm’s website, but also read news articles and press releases.

Using a range of sources will not only broaden your knowledge but will also ensure you have the full picture, increasingly important in an era of fake news.

How to develop this skill: Research, like anything, takes practice and the more you do, the more streamlined and efficient your searches will become.

Contact us for more information.

Competitive and Attractive Legal Skills for Job Seekers

Top Legal Skills

Competitive and Attractive Legal Skills for Job Seekers

BY SALLY KANE Updated February 18, 2020

Legal positions vary greatly in scope and responsibility, but certain core skills are required for most of them. It goes without saying that you’ll need the physical stamina and the energy necessary to put in long days, but certain emotional attributes can’t be overlooked either.

Nobody wants an attorney to whom they’re just another case number. A capacity for empathy can go a long way. And while it can also pay to be pessimistic—you’re always prepared for the worst-case scenario with a solution already prepared in the back of your mind—you don’t want that to be visible to your clients. 

Beyond stamina and compassion, several intellectual edges come into play as well. 

Oral Communication

Language is one of the most fundamental tools of a legal professional. You must be able to convey information in clear, concise, and logical terms. You should be able to communicate persuasively, and be able to advocate a position or a cause.

You’ll also have to master legal terminology, and don’t overlook that good communication means listening well, too. 

Written Communication

From writing simple correspondence to drafting complex legal documents, writing is an integral function of nearly every position. Professionals must master the stylistic and mechanical aspects of writing, as well as the fundamentals of English grammar.

Learn how to write organized, concise, and persuasive prose. You’ll need this skill to draft effective documents such as motions, briefs, memorandums, resolutions, and agreements.

Client Service

Serving a client capably, honestly, and responsibly is crucial to success in the client-focused legal industry. Professionals must master rainmaking and client development skills and customer service skills. 

Analytical and Logical Reasoning

Professionals must review and assimilate large volumes of complex information and be able to do so efficiently and effectively. Analytical and logical reasoning skills include reviewing complex written documents, drawing inferences, and making connections between legal authorities.

You’ll be expected to develop organizational and problem-solving abilities, and to structure and evaluate arguments. An ability to use inductive and deductive reasoning to draw inferences and reach conclusions can’t be overstated. 

Legal Research

Researching legal concepts, case law, judicial opinions, statutes, regulations, and other information are important skills. Professionals must master research techniques and learn how to locate and synthesize legal authority.

You must be proficient at statutory interpretation and learn proper legal citation. Become proficient with legal research software applications and internet research.

Technology Skills

Technology is changing the legal landscape and is an integral part of every function. Professionals should master a variety of word processing, presentation, time management, billing, and practice-related software applications to remain effective in their jobs. 

This includes master communications technology such as email, voice messaging systems, video conferencing, and related technology. It involves becoming familiar with electronic discovery, computerized litigation support, and document management software.

You should also develop the tech know-how to make wise technology decisions.

Knowledge of Substantive Law and Legal Procedure

All legal professionals, even those at the bottom of the food chain, should have a basic knowledge of substantive law and legal procedure. Even secretaries and other support staff must have at least a general knowledge of local, state, and federal court systems, and relevant filing deadlines.

They should understand the fundamental principles of law in the practice area in which they work. 

Time Management

Legal professionals are under constant pressure to bill time and manage large workloads in a profession that’s based on the business model of the billable hour. Productivity equals financial gain.

They must develop superior multi-tasking skills, a strong work ethic, and the ability to juggle competing priorities. They must be able to meet tight deadlines, and this requires calendar and time management skills.


Legal professionals must develop topnotch organizational skills to manage large volumes of data and documents, even and especially in the age of technology.

This includes the ability to sort, order, and manage large volumes of exhibits, documents, files, evidence, data, and other information in paper form, and the ability to identify objectives, catalog data, and create an effective organization structure from massive amounts of unrelated information. But you should also be able to use technology applications that assist in managing case-related data.


Legal professionals don’t work in a vacuum. Even solo practitioners must rely on support staff and team up with co-counsel, experts, and vendors to deliver services. Teamwork can be integral to individual and organizational success. 

Teamwork skills include collaborating with others to reach common goals, as well as coordinating and sharing information and knowledge. You should be able to cultivate relationships with colleagues and clients. Attend and participate in team events, meetings, and conferences.

Your Ticket to Success

Develop all these skills, and you’ll be on your way to success in the legal profession. It might seem like a lot to master, but you’ll find that proficiency in one area tends to lead to expertise in another.

How to be a better lawyer in just a few minutes a day

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Lawyers are notoriously busy folks, but Jeremy W. Richter wants them to give him five minutes of their day to become better at what they do.

Richter does that in his new book, “Building a Better Law Practice: Become a Better Lawyer in Five Minutes a Day,” where he contends that reading about one topic per day, “over about seven weeks, at the time cost of about 0.1 hours per day, you will have collected dozens of strategies for developing an efficient and collaborative practice that will set the foundation for good relationships with your clients.”

“I do believe our profession is best served when more of us deliberately improve our craft, but selfishly my job is made easier when opposing counsel are good at their job.”

Richter practices civil defense litigation in Birmingham, Ala. He writes a law blog at (and yes, he has a tip about writing a blog, too).

The book is divided into four parts: managing clients and creating collaborative relationships; practice considerations for your practice; improving your skills and managing your caseload; and developing yourself and your practice, and includes tips on everything from getting paid to improving efficiency to managing your caseload to improving your legal writing, Richter allows the reader to focus on just one strategy for improvement a day.

YourABA caught up with Richter to find out more.

Why do you think a lawyer can build a better practice in just five minutes a day?

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Whether we are reading books or articles, listening to podcasts or the radio, lawyers need to be consistently availing themselves to new ideas, business strategies, marketing tactics or just sources of inspiration. These can either come in short form or long. With constant inputs, lawyer can continually improve themselves and their practices and expand their horizons.

Did you write this book for a particular type of lawyer?

I wrote this book to be a source of practical and implementable information, tactics and strategies for lawyers to help with various aspects of practice. I think of it as a “devotional for lawyers,” a daily reader that gives you one idea a day that can help you out. Lawyers are busy. And many lawyers won’t take the time to read a large book. But if they get something practical to improve their skills or their business in just a few minutes, that may be something they are more inclined to read.

Richter tip: How to gain new clients

It’s a familiar but true idiom: People do business with people they know like and trust. According to Anthony Iannarino’s “The Lost Art of Closing,” turning a stranger into a new client involves building trust, creating value, collaborating and delivering exceptional results. To accomplish this, you have to understand the challenges your would-be client is facing and try to help him solve his problems. Think about adding some value, such as ideas and advice, for your potential new clients before requesting a commitment. Become “others-minded.”

Adapted from “Building a Better Law Practice: Become a Better Lawyer in Five Minutes a Day”

Where should a lawyer put most of his/her efforts in building a better law practice?

The fundamentals. For young lawyers, you have to develop good knowledge of your practice area(s), which often takes time to learn beyond the hours that are billable to clients. Then you need to implement systems that will help you stay organized, manage your caseload and communicate regularly with clients. Of course, for solo practitioners, they have the harder task of operating a business on top of practicing law, and if they don’t understand the business of law, their practice will not likely succeed.

What are some of your practical tips for getting paid by clients?

It depends. Different types of practices need to undertake different strategies to make sure they get paid. A personal injury attorney needs to make sure her firm’s name is on the settlement check along with the client, because if it goes into the client’s bank account first, the lawyer is never going to see her share of the money.  For firms with individual and small business clients, get a retainer up front, because if you are only billing your clients after the work is done, you are going to end up doing a lot of work for free. For those who have an insurance defense practice like mine, the client gives you billing guidelines with which you have to be compliant; a failure to comply with the structure you’re given will result in you not getting paid, regardless of the quality of the work-product.

Richter tip: Why storytelling is essential to trial attorneys

Preeminent attorney Steve Heninger says: We can’t successfully force feed facts and opinions. We have to find a way to connect with the universals we think are present within a jury.

A good story should strike a nerve with jurors that make them want to retell it. It has to have sticking power that drives the hearer to retell it in her own way, filtered through her own values, and what has struck her as important. We have to find elements that are contagious and intersect with a common ground that we feel is reasonably probable with this specific jury.

Adapted from “Building a Better Law Practice: Become a Better Lawyer in Five Minutes a Day”

You recommend that lawyers turn to Stephen King for writing guidance. Why is that?

We should be reading great writers of every ilk. The more we read, the more we absorb and intuit what great writing consists of, what it sounds like, and most importantly, what it omits. We cannot become great, or even good, writers without being voracious readers.

Stephen King’s “On Writing” is part memoir and part writing guide. It contains some useful tactics to help all writers improve their craft. And since a significant part of what most writers do is write it is an excellent resource for us. But Stephen King is not the only writer to provide a valuable resource on improving the writing craft; others I have found helpful include Anne Lamott, Jeff Goins, Joanna Penn and Shawn Coyne.

I recommend that lawyers read broadly in whatever interests them. Read for pleasure, but also be analytical as to what makes for enjoyable and consumable writing. The same components that make for good fiction and non-fiction also make for good legal writing.

Richter tip: When to stop arguing your point with a judge

Restraint and situational awareness is key. Look for cues in a judge’s body language. When a judge begins to regularly nod his head in agreement with your points, it’s time to wrap things up. 

Adapted from “Building a Better Law Practice: Become a Better Lawyer in Five Minutes a Day”

The legal profession has a well-documented problem with wellness. What’s your advice for how to deal with the stress and anxiety of being a lawyer?

We must make a point of taking time for our own physical, emotional and intellectual well-being. Lawyers often treat their work as more important than themselves, but this is a well-trodden path to destruction. It’s important to find meaning in things outside our vocation and pursue those things, whether it’s family, faith or creative outlets. I recently heard entrepreneur and former attorney Shawn Askinosie say, “If we can find some meaning in our lives, we’re going to live longer, be more joyful and be more pleasant to be around.” Certainly, the issue is more nuanced and complicated than this singular idea, but I think having a purpose outside the scope of our work is foundational to maintaining our well-being.

Richter tip: 8 steps for a happy client

5 Phrases You Should be Using to Develop Happy Clients | Wallace Graphics
  1. Maintain contact – Your client needs information and your assurances.
  2. Answer and immediately issue discovery
  3. Engage in aggressive motion practice, as needed – Your client needs to know she is a priority and you need the proper responses to best represent her.
  4. Make an early evaluation of liability and potential damages – This is key throughout because your client is attempting to evaluate risk and set reserves.
  5. Conduct an early analysis for resolution strategies – Positioning cases for early resolution may not positively affect your billable hours, but your client will be happier and happy clients keep sending work.
  6. Present a balanced view of a case’s strengths and weaknesses – Sugarcoating your analysis may lead to false expectations that lead to doubt and mistrust.
  7. Provide a proposed budget – Aids in sound decision making.
  8. Explain tactics and procedural issues – Your relationship with the client should be collaborative because your interests are aligned. 

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10 Reasons Why Law Is Important

Law” is a system of rules designed to regulate behavior in both public and private society. Social and/or governmental institutions create and enforce these rules. Humans have been making laws for thousands of years. Early examples include ancient Egyptian law, Babylonian law, ancient Chinese law, and Old Testament law. There are many categories of law, including criminal law, civil law, and so on. Why does law matter at all? Here are ten reasons why:

#1 Laws set the standard for acceptable (and unacceptable) behaviors

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At its most basic, the law is about mitigating conflict. When creating laws, societies reckon with what drives conflict. Some things – like murder and theft- are obvious and have been included in laws stretching back to ancient times. However, as time goes on and societies change, what’s considered acceptable changes, too. Legal systems adapt so they can provide clarity and context for unacceptable actions. They also offer guidelines for appropriate consequences.

#2 Laws provide access to justice

If it’s against the law to punch someone in the face, someone who gets punched can do something about it other than simply swinging back. In a perfect world, justice is equal. It doesn’t matter who got punched or who did the punching. What matters is that the law against punching was broken. Everyone in a society – and not just a privileged few – must have equal access to justice through the law.

#3 Laws keep everyone safe

Laws don’t only respond to injustices and harm. They work to prevent them. Food safety laws are a prime example. In the past, the food industry was horrendously unregulated. In the 18th and 19th centuries, American food producers went to extreme measures in their quest for profit. They watered down milk and stirred in materials like chalk for color. They mixed dirt into coffee, tea, and spices and added lead to beer and wine. In 1906, President Roosevelt and Congress passed the Pure Food and Drug Act, as well as the Meat Inspection Act. This marked the beginning of modern food safety and monitoring. Today, food safety laws protect the public from potentially-fatal food poisoning.

#4 Laws protect the most vulnerable in society

Many laws are specifically designed to protect certain groups of people. Laws like the Civil Rights Act (the United States) and the Sex Discrimination Act (Australia) make it illegal to discriminate. These types of laws protect what’s known as “negative rights,” which is the right to be free from something, like discrimination. Anyone can be discriminated against, but as history shows, certain people are more at risk. Laws designed to prevent discrimination based on race, sex, gender, religion, and more protect these groups and give them better access to justice.

#5 The process of creating laws encourages civil and political engagement

As societies change, laws must change, too. Advancements in technology are a prime example of why. In recent times, revenge porn has become a major issue. According to one study, around 10 million Americans have had explicit photos shared without consent. While there are state laws, there is no federal law. In Australia, an electronic petition called upon the A.C.T. Legislative Assembly to criminalize revenge porn. The Assembly listened. This is a great example of people engaging with the law-making process and making law matter as issues evolve.

#6 Laws offers people a variety of career options

As a career, law is varied and versatile. Because there are so many different areas of law, there are hundreds of job options. Lawyers can specialize in everything from contracts to immigration to criminal law. A person can also become a professor of law, while there are also jobs for paralegals, consultants, and researchers. The legal system is big, so there is room for all kinds of skills and expertise.

#7 Laws are important to maintain peace

Earlier in this article, we touched on how law is essentially about mitigating conflict. That makes law essential to maintaining peace. This is because injustice fuels conflict. If destructive behaviors are allowed to flourish without remedy, people will suffer and become dissatisfied with their government. If justice is applied unequally, this also fans the flames of conflict. For the sake of peace, societies need to strengthen their rule of law and ensure that it’s fair.

#8 Laws are important for social progress

We’ve discussed how legal systems should adapt and evolve with the times. If laws remained stagnant, so would societies. Throughout history, law has been employed as a tool for social change. It was laws that made slavery, segregation, and apartheid illegal. Laws prevent people from getting fired from their jobs because of who they marry or because of a disability. The concept of law as a mechanism for social change is complicated because if the majority of a community doesn’t agree with the law, it’s likely that the law won’t be enforced. However, having a law on the books gives people more power than if the law didn’t exist at all. It’s an important step (though not necessarily the final step) to real social change.

#9 Laws make human rights a reality

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor once said, “I firmly believe in the rule of law as the foundation for all our basic rights.” Basic rights are the human rights that everyone is entitled to. This includes the right to life, the right to marry, the right to be free from discrimination, and more. These are listed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but that document is not legally binding. To make human rights a reality, they have to be protected through laws. Without law, human rights would be an abstract concept.

#10 Laws are not always good for society

The fact that law can be used to harm is the last reason why it’s so important. Laws are not always beneficial to society or they’re only beneficial to a select group. Governments often use laws to increase their power and punish critics. Laws can also be problematic when they fail to address the root causes of a problem and even end up making it worse. Fines, which are meant to encourage people to follow laws, can add up to the point of putting people in debt and criminalizing poverty. The war on drugs is another key example of how laws can hurt people. Instead of treating drug addiction as a public health issue, laws have turned it into a criminal one. In these cases, laws end up violating human rights instead of protecting them.

5 Basic Functions of Law in the Society


Functions of law in the society: Law has a wide and strict meaning. Law defined in a wide sense, simply means a rule of action. That is, a rule to which actions conform or should confrom. It is in this wide meaning of law that we talk of science such as the Ohms Law of Electricity and Charles Law of Logic, Economics, Psychology and so on.
We are not, however, concerned with the definition of law in its wide sense. Law defined in the narrow or strict sense is the subject of the study by law students and legal practonioners.

In this narrow sense, Law becomes a complex phenomenon without any generally accepted defination. An attempt to define Law may be colored by the perception or background of the person attempting the defination.

Thus, a defination of law may be more interested in looking at law from a sociological perspective (that is, its effect on society), or historical perpective (that is, the history of law, or theological perspective (that is, the religious role of law), or analytical perspective (that is, law uninfluenced by any meta-legal considration).

Law can also be defined by looking at its contents. In the sense, the person attempting to define Law may not agree to the contents of Law. It may be looked at as set of particular rules recognized by judges, while some others may look at it as the entire legal system which will include, in addition to the above, the parliament, the court system, the legal prefession, the police and the bureaucracy that services the system.

It may also be said by yet a few others to include the entire legal processes (making of Acts of Parlisment, delegated legislation and adjudication by judges).
We shall, however, adopt for our purpose, Professor James’s defination of Law as a body of rules for the guidance of human conduct which are imposed upon and enforced among the members of a given state. The object of such laws is to enforce certain standards of behaviour among citizens.

Functions of Law


Law carries out a lot of functions in a modern state. It serves as a means od social control, assisted by such other means as public opinion (morality), religion, education and custom. However, Law is the mostinstitutionalized means of social control in the society. The social funtions of law are varied:

(1) Law maintains public order, orderwise called “law and morality” in the society. 

In the absense of law, private feud and vengeance supplement the informal social process by which man and groups deal wit disputes. Law evolved to supplement the informal alternatives and provides an acceptable rationalized and conclusive settlement of dispute which is subject to public scrutiny. Apart from maintaining of public order, law also suppress deviant behaviour through provision of rules prohibiting certain deviant behaviour and the enforcement of such rules. The criminal law is especially apposite her.

(2) Law facilitates co-operation action between persons in society and recognizes such action. 

It recognizes certain basic underlying interests in society such as the various interests in property and proviseds a framework of rules for giving effect to them and protecting them; for instance, through traspass.

It provides a system of transfer of right and interests (such as in contract and inheritance) and also reconizes ans gives effect to the voluntary formation of groups for peacful purposes such as associations, companies and trust.

(3) Law constitutes and recognizes the principal organs of power in the state.

It provides for seccession to power and defines who has the right to excercise what kind of power in society. The power so recognised by law turns round to make law in the society. Thus, while the law creates the state, the state creates the law

(4) law communicates and reinforces social values in the society. 

Social values are the morals of the society. Law assist the society by identifying these values, ensuring that they are communicated to the society and, if necessary, that they are enforced by the state.

While alcoholism may not be morally acceptable in a given state, unless the law bans alcoholism, it remains inoffensive. The moral reprehension to it may grow so much that will then beused to enforce the moral punishable with imprisonment or fine. Law has always enforced morality.

With the growthof welfare state and collectivism, a wide range of matter formerly left to the individual conscience has now been made the subject of staet control through law.

Parliament has also at times legislated to regulate behaviour in advance of publicopinion and has used the law partly as an educative medium on social issues as capital punishment, sex, and tribe equality and the dangers of smoking and illicit sex.

(5) Law also provide certain basic and fundamental freedoms for the people. 

These freedom which are rooted in the social contract theory of government, includes freedom of life, property, association and so on. Recently, attemts have been made to extend these freedom to include such welfare issues as free eduction, minimum standards of living and so on.

These are the basic functions of law in every society. It is important to note also that law is inevitable for any society to grow. With the points which have been mentioned and discussed above, it is undoubtedly clear that law play a vital role to ensure growth in the society.

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The Purpose of Law and Its Functions In Society

It is easy to understand how important laws are if you imagine a society trying to function without them. There is no way for one legal system to cover every situation because individuals and circumstances are unique.

In the U.S., there are a wide variety of laws, including laws created by legislatures, those created by administrative agencies, and laws created from tradition, or common law. Then there is a court system to help decide which laws apply in each situation and how the laws should be interpreted. It seems like a lot of rules, but all of them are important to help protect us in our day-to-day lives.

Functions of Law

Law fulfills several important functions, but these four are the most important:  

  1. Laws protect individual rights and liberties. The Bill of Rights was added to the U.S. Constitution to guarantee several important protections. The laws protect individuals from other individuals, from organizations, and even from the government. The First Amendment of the Bill of Rights prohibits the government from making any law that would interfere with an individual’s right to free speech. There are some exceptions based on what is considered free speech.
  2. Laws provide a framework and rules to help resolve disputes between individuals. Laws create a system where individuals can bring their disputes before an impartial fact-finder, such as a judge or jury. There are also legal alternatives where individuals work together to find a solution, such as by using alternative dispute resolution (ADR). There are courts at every level, from local to federal, to decide who should win in a dispute.
  3. Without laws, there would be no way to set standards. It is easy enough to see why murder and theft are crimes, but laws also provide a framework for setting many other kinds of standards. Without the Federal Code of Regulations, it would be difficult for individuals or businesses to transact businesses using banks. Federal regulations provide enforceable rules and protections regarding taxes, commercial transactions, employment laws, insurance, and other important areas.
  4. Laws help societies to maintain order. What would society be like without the rule of law? You might need to provide your own protection because there would be no police force or army.  Without federal banking protections, you might need to find other ways to get what you couldn’t provide for yourself. With the structure and organization of laws come order and predictability. Individuals can feel safe, leading to wider social structures and greater productivity.

Purpose of Business Law

Business law is unique because it has so many aspects of other areas of law. In order to understand such a complex subject, attorneys must understand diverse areas like commercial transactions, employment law, business formation and dissolution, and insurance law. Business law helps to protect not just the businesses but the owners, employees, and customers of the businesses.

Show Me Your Papers Law: Harassment of Immigrants

The Texas “show me your papers” law, otherwise known as Senate Bill 4, is one of the harshest bills impacting immigrants in the United States. Essentially, this is a discriminatory law that makes racial profiling an acceptable practice for law enforcement officials.

Understanding the Law

Senate Bill 4 gives police the ability to investigate the immigration status of any person they arrest or detain, including witnesses or victims of a crime. Under SB 4, even a passenger in a car pulled over for speeding could have his or her immigration status questioned.

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SB 4 also requires sheriffs and police chiefs to honor any detainer requests from ICE or face significant penalties. As a result of this part of the law, anyone who been picked up by police and found to be an undocumented immigrant must be held if ICE wants to pick them up.

Limitations of the “Show Me Your Papers” Law

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Although SB 4 gives police and ICE a lot more power, there are also limitations. For example, this law does not apply in mental health centers, community centers, hospital districts, open-enrollment charter schools, or school districts. It is also important to remember that ICE has a policy that prevents the agency from engaging in enforcement action during public demonstrations, as well as in sensitive locations such as places of worship. Furthermore, immigrants should be aware that student education records are confidential, and that it is illegal for school police to inquire about the immigration status of a student or parent unless it is permitted by federal law.

Negative Impacts of the Law

At first glance, it is already easy to see that this law provides law enforcement officials with far too much power. However, the full impact of this law will be even more destructive than people may expect. Some issues caused by this law include:

1. A large majority of Texans now fall under suspicion.

Texas communities are largely composed of people of color, including immigrants. Under SB 4, the immigration status of any person can be questioned. Because people of color are more likely to be immigrants, anyone of color is now vulnerable to frequent and unfair interrogations from police.

2. Relationships between immigrant communities and local law enforcement suffer.

Because of the fear inspired by SB 4, members of immigrant communities may no longer trust police as much as they once did. This means that they won’t be as likely to report crimes and/or cooperate with law enforcement officials.

3. The law does not target criminals.

Some defendants of the bill have stated that SB 4 is targeted toward criminals who are negatively impacting life in the state. However, the bill allows police to target anyone, even if they haven’t broken the law in any way.

4. The law can be misinterpreted.

Although there are clear limitations to the enforcement of SB 4, there have already been instances where it was misinterpreted, thus leading to the unlawful detainment of undocumented immigrants in Texas. This experience is traumatic and time-consuming for victims and their families.

Help for Immigrants

Immigrants in Dallas and the surrounding area are undoubtedly nervous about the effects of the “Show Me Your Papers Law.” However, if your green card or visa paperwork is in order, you won’t have to worry about being deported. For this reason, it’s important to have a knowledgeable immigration attorney help you make sure that your visa or green card paperwork has been properly filed and that your visa has not expired.

60 Resources for Supporting Immigrant and Refugee Communities

At Hernandez Law Group, P.C., we’re dedicated to helping immigrants. Whether you’re looking to apply for or renew a visa, green card, or citizenship, we’re here to help. When you have us guide you through the filing process, you’ll never have to worry about this kind of harassment leading to deportation.