One of the qualities of a legal technician is knowing how to analyze and summarize information. There are several techniques for quickly developing this skill. Here they are.
Before thinking about improving your analytical capabilities, Organizational Guidance Counsellor Mathieu Guénette, author of the website leschercheursdesens.com, invites legal technicians – or anyone else who wants to increase their analytical capabilities – to remove the barriers to analysis:
“This is the approach that the Korn Ferry firm proposes in the book FYI For Your Improvement,” he explains. “We begin by asking what makes it difficult to accomplish this task. Is it a problem of concentration? Are we impatient? Do we always want to be in on the action?”
By undertaking this “self-analysis” you can better identify your Achilles Heel and work to improve it.
An obstacle many professionals share is the difficulty of concentrating in a work environment full of distractions: the ringing telephone, emails, incessant mobile phone notifications, the call of social media…
“With the omnipresence of the telephone and social media, we no longer tolerate boredom… However, each time we are distracted during background work, we must invest additional effort to regain our concentration,” explains Mathieu Guénette. “That’s why it’s important to exercise mental discipline, much like with children – we define time slots where we are completely disconnected from the internet and telephone, for example.”
This exercise of isolation can be difficult at first. Mathieu Guénette suggests doing it as a team — with a colleague, for example — to ensure that you respect the constraint, as well as to draw inspiration from people who excel in analytical work.
Understand the process
To improve your analytical mind, you have to first understand the steps of the analysis process. “Before embarking to quickly on synthesis of information,” explains Mathieu Guénette, “there is a whole lot of research and verification of sources to be done.”
There must be curiosity and a critical sense of the information before us. “Is it credible, is it relevant to the issues I want to deal with and the audience I am addressing? You have to learn to ask the right questions,” says the counsellor.
De-personalizing the problem is another good strategy for identifying the relevant information to be included in a report. “We can draw inspiration from the six hat method of Edward de Bono,” suggests the counsellor. “It’s an approach where you analyze a problem from different angles. The black hat, for example, is the critical angle. I become the devil’s advocate, seeking for what might not work in my project or in my solution.”
Finally, Mathieu Guénette proposes an exercise in self-evaluation of the analytical mind, through 5 questions:
— How do I react to a complex situation? (Am I emotional, calm? Do I take the time to fully understand the situation?)
— What are my ways of collecting information? (Do I verify the sources?)
— How do I process and classify the information? (Do I take notes? What are my work tools?)
— What are the barriers to my thinking?
— What are the benefits of good analytical work?