Student News

Janet Hutchinson, associate dean for career development, resists the term “soft skills” when talking about interpersonal skills.

“The name underestimates their value and implies they are easy to learn,” she says. “In fact, these skills are difficult to master.”

That’s why Richmond Law teaches these skills early, beginning with orientation workshops for incoming 1Ls.

At a luncheon about business and social interactions, for example, former attorney, lobbyist, and assistant White House chef Mary Crane explained that proper etiquette can put others at ease.

“Mary has seen and heard about these issues from every vantage point,” Hutchinson says. “She knows what the etiquette rule says and why, whether that particular rule is important to clients, and whether the rule varies in different parts of the world.”

Another session is aimed to shift students’ perspective from developing an elevator pitch to developing an elevator conversation. That means skipping the three-minute monologue and giving others space to talk about themselves.

“First-year students begin interacting with members of the legal community from the moment they enter law school,” Hutchinson says. “Because every interaction students have with others impacts their reputation in some way, the sooner they are able to positively shape those interactions, the further they will go professionally.”