Are you an introvert? So are most lawyers. And that's a good thing.
The blustering litigator or the boorish dealmaker are enduring stereotypes of lawyers. In fact, when I've spoken to law students once of the most common reasons I heard for why they went to law school was "I like to argue." (For the record, this is a terrible reason to go to law school.)
In fact, 60% of attorneys are introverts, according to Eva Wisnik of Wisnik Career Enterprises, which performed personality testing on some 6,000 lawyers. It's understandable why law would attract so many introverts -- we don't actually spend much time arguing. Instead, we do a lot of solitary or semi-solitary reading, writing, and analysis in quiet offices. And our interactions are "measured and deliberate," says Susan Cain, a fellow Harvard Law School alumna, former transactional lawyer at Cleary Gottlieb, and author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. Cain says, "I’m not overly adversarial, and clients appreciated that. I really enjoyed many aspects of law practice: the state of flow, putting my head down and working.”
Introverts aren't necessarily shy, and employers are learning the difference between the two. Law firms and other legal employers are starting embrace introverts and reconsidering how damaging narcissists can be to corporate culture. Personality tests and assessments are becoming more common. Law firms are also being to train lawyers on how to use their individual styles in the workplace.
For individual attorneys, understanding your personality and style and have major repercussions on how you conduct your job search, establish leadership in your practice area (or even if you want to establish leadership), network, and more. Personality type is built into the language and tone of your legal resume--and is critical for signaling to employers whether you'd match their corporate culture and the demands of the role. Leadership style is critical for senior-level lawyers; learning style is critical for junior lawyers.
Read more in Leslie A. Gordon's "Most lawyers are introverted, and that's not necessarily a bad thing" in the ABA Journal, with interviews with Airina Rodrigues of DLA Piper; Susan Cain; Eva Wisnik; Larry Richard of LawyerBrain; Jennifer Rakstad of Mayer Brown; Daneille Benderly of Perkins Coie; Sari Zimmerman of UC Hastings College of Law; and Jessica Natkin of Fenwick & West.