Why You Need Sharp Legal Knowledge (and How to Maintain it)

Staying up to date with the latest legal developments in a variety of sectors and practice areas can be an overwhelming prospect for many legal professionals, especially those running small firms. But maintaining your sharp edge is vital to delivering the best-quality work to your clients and mitigating your liability risk.

Just as a sharp blade enables a chef to work with precision and speed, lawyers need sharp legal knowledge and up-to-date resources to effectively handle legal problems and carve out the relevant facts and issues to be addressed.

In fact, staying abreast of the latest legal developments in your areas of expertise can:

  • Save you time: Knowing about a legislative change or a new case before you start formulating your advice enables you to do the work once, with confidence you won’t have to rethink or rewrite it.
  • Save face: Written advice affords us the luxury of updating ourselves on an unfamiliar area of law so we can still sound like an expert even though we weren’t two hours prior. But what about fielding incidental legal questions at a client lunch? Having a fresh mental cache of new case law can be a deal saver.
  • Save your reputation: Failing to take into account a changed law can result in negligent advice to your clients, which means having to make that call to your professional liability insurer.

So how should lawyers maintain a sharp legal knowledge?

1. Utilise online technology

Online legal information providers are one of the best sources of legal updates on a broad range of subject areas. These resources can be customised to your specific needs and sent to your mobile device. You can also access experts’ blog posts, podcasts, practice notes, checklists and precedents so you can be confident you’re using the most accurate and up-to-date reference materials.

2. Subscribe to industry newsletters

Industry newsletters provide a wealth of information about legal developments, broad policy changes and market shifts that are directly affecting your clients. Such in-context information can highlight the practical implications of a law or policy change to your client’s business.

There is also a new range of ‘converter’ apps, which can instantly provide you with the new legislative reincarnations of obsolete provisions, such as the former Trade Practices Act.

3. Attend industry networking events

The benefits of getting involved with industry events cannot be emphasised enough. Not only do you receive practical industry information, you also have the opportunity to build your professional profile, learn about your competitors, network with clients and share the learning experience with clients and colleagues.

The opportunities to stay abreast of the law are continually growing, and it’s now easier than ever to access timely and accurate information. Lawyers who invest the time to stay sharp with these tools can gain the trust of their clients and a reputation for quality.

Stacey Leeke is a litigation lawyer and freelance writer with a background in professional indemnity and insolvency law practice. She has over nine years experience in the legal industry in both Australia and Canada.

Stacey currently writes for a number of online and print based publications, specialising in analytical critiques on new developments in the law as well as commentaries on current industry trends and best practice.

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