The Soft Skills: Critical Thinking

The Soft Skills: Critical Thinking

The Soft Skills: Critical Thinking

Critical thinking has been the subject of much debate and discussion since the time of ancient Greek philosophers, Socrates and Plato. Critical thinking in the context of the practice of law requires law students to learn to question and analyze what they see, hear, read, think, and feel with the understanding that first impressions are often wrong conclusions and often change after studious, meticulous analysis. Critical thinking is one of several soft skills that attorney-advocates must utilize to meet the needs of their clients.

The California Desert Trial Academy’s (CDTA) unique learning platform emphasizes that students learn the soft skills in addition to the core substantive law. What are the soft skills? Some of these skills are people skills; some are management skills; some are technical, and some are analytical. Traditional law schools may consider these skills as non-academic, and, thus, not a part of their standard curriculum.

The soft skills that students at the CDTA can expect to learn are numerous. Training goes beyond bar-tested academic subjects, and include skills training and values reinforcement. CDTA teaches students to be adept in the following areas:

  • Critical thinking
  • Creative thinking
  • Core values review
  • Professionalism
  • Ethics and professional conduct
  • Negotiation
  • Time management
  • Enterprise management
  • Persuasive writing
  • Presentation
  • Research


Few law students are unfamiliar with the Socratic method as a classroom tool. Students analyze the facts of a case or hypothetical based on the given law and then analyze whether the deciding court’s ruling is well-reasoned. These analytical, thought-provoking discussions are exercises in critical thinking, with the purpose of developing crucial reasoning skills.

It is common for law students to believe that law professors are playing games by not answering each hypothetical posed. However, the lesson here is that there may not be an answer. Students should exercise their critical thinking skills and ponder what a possible answer might be in the future.

In the real world, clients come to an initial consultation with various documents and a relatively convoluted story that contains an equal amount of relevant and irrelevant facts. Attorneys must sift through all these facts and decide which are determinative based on the attorneys’ knowledge and understanding of the law. As attorneys analyze the facts, they must know their next step and work toward meaningful and satisfying outcomes for clients. Critical thinking is a crucial component of this process.

If you are interested in becoming an exceptional legal advocate, consider the benefits of the California Desert Trial Academy. CDTA’s growing family of student and alumni attorneys freely and openly share their legal experiences, career advice, and academic tips. Call us today at (760) 342-0900 or find out more online here.


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