Negotiation Skill. Almost all cases get resolved by way of settlement. Good lawyers get a fair outcome, and you feel good about your outcome. Good lawyers are masters of selectively using leverage to help guide a dispute toward resolution. They have a warrior spirit that is fed by cleverly getting to the desired outcome. When a lawyer is not a good negotiator, disputes cost more and outcomes are less favorable.
Good Paper Skill. Good lawyers create letters and court documents that are well-cited, well- though-out and well-written. Typos are non-existent, and they maintain a sense of decorum unless it is truly helpful to do otherwise. They get things done on time, and they use narrative skill and the evidence to maximize persuasiveness. Of course, they know the law.
Presentation Talent. Good lawyers present well when they are being spontaneous, and they present very well when they have the time and resources to really prepare a case. They are familiar with the courts and the unwritten and written rules of handling a case. They look and act like they know what they are doing, because they do.
Specific Experience. You really want to hire someone who has handled a case like yours before. This is not always possible when hiring a lawyer, as many problems are unique. However, you probably would not want to hire a lawyer that spends 90% of their time handling real estate transactions to handle your injury case, and vice-versa. Experience matters, even if it is not a precise fit with your case.
Reasonable Accessibility. Good lawyers make themselves available to you, and you should not have to beg them to talk with you. That does not mean you have a right to be high-maintenance, it means their availability should vary proportionally to the seriousness of what you are facing at that moment. Good lawyers are busy, but as they say, if you want something done, ask a busy person to do it.
A client was injured as a passenger in a one-car accident, and filed a an underinsured motorist claim with his own insurance company. The insurance company denied the claim based upon the fact that the driver of the vehicle had been drinking. At trial, the jury awarded substantially more than the policy limit, and the insurance company paid the claim.