Considering how to become a lawyer requires an analysis of the lawyer personality for various reasons. You must answer the question of whether or not your personality matches with the lawyer personality and the lawyer character traits of the people who work in the legal field.
More specifically, in exploring how to become a lawyer it is important to understand the lawyer personality because of 3 main reasons:
A) The type of work demands a certain personality. -- To be successful at legal work requires a certain personality type… depending on how closely you match the lawyer personality type, the more likely you are to not only enjoy the work but also be successful.
B) Co-workers may have quirks that offend you. -- Realize that the people you work with will most likely share certain similar personality traits, and it is important to know whether or not you really want to surround yourself with these specific types of people.
C) Your emotional health. -- To be happy and content on an emotional level with your legal work requires that you have the right personality that matches the lawyer personality.
So then what is the lawyer personality? There have been numerous studies conducted by psychologists on the lawyer personality type which could fill multiple web pages…
1) Tier Level Thinking – The practice of any type of law requires advising the client regarding either a proper avenue to proceed with no liability to the client, or the least precarious route to take to minimize the client’s exposure. To effectively achieve this end, lawyers must be able to see future possibilities. Also, litigation is adversarial in nature and you must be able to out think your opponent.
This is called multi-tier level thinking… similar to a game of chess where a skilled chess player will not simply look at the next move, put actually plan out the next 4-10 moves (or possibly to the end of the game) mentally reviewing every move and counter move.
2) Hyper Skeptical/Critical – Being skeptical and critical are other important traits of the lawyer personality. Lawyers are generally risk averse, and/or hired to minimize risk… thus the ability to be highly critical and not take things at face value is a required skill that all lawyers possess. If a lawyer does not learn this skill it will be unlikely that he/she will ever be able to retain clients, because a client pays a lawyer for their ability to spot unknown issues/pitfalls to the client and advise of the best course of action.
3) Independent – Lawyers are generally pretty independent people. Once you become a lawyer you will be considered a professional, and thus you will be expected to do your work properly often without direct supervision. Therefore, especially as a young associate you will be spending a significant amount of time alone researching and writing.
You will be left to your own devices and expected to produce a useable work product (either memorandum summarizing research or written documentation to be submitted to the court). Though certain types of lawyers do work on larger teams, you will be given more room to work independently vs. another industry.
4) Tough Skin – Lawyers operate often in adversarial proceedings, and therefore it is necessary for a successful lawyer to have a tough skin. As a lawyer you will be operating in a highly emotionally charged industry (from your client side), tough business pressures and demands (coming from your employer), and adversarial pressures (from other lawyers).
The ability to balance and manage unreasonable conflicts with opposing counsel, the emotional imbalances of your clients, and the billing demands of your employer can take a toll on those who are emotionally sensitive.
5) Disciplined – The practice of law requires someone who possesses personality traits associated with discipline. Again, lawyers are given a lot of independence, and as a lawyer you will be expected to produce work product on your own.
Realize now while you are still researching how to become a lawyer that as a lawyer you will not have someone checking in with you every five minutes to make sure you are still working. You will be required to self-regulate, and if you do not possess this element of the lawyer personality, you may find it very difficult to keep a legal job.
6) Hard Working – It goes without saying that the practice of law requires hard work (and as an aside you should be working hard right now collecting as much information as you can about how to become a lawyer).
As a lawyer, you will be required to decipher and master complex legal questions. Sometimes, some questions will not have clear answers, and finding the best avenue to proceed will take a great deal of time and energy to discover.
This element of the lawyer personality should be expected, and most likely you already possess this lawyer personality trait as otherwise you would not be researching how to become a lawyer.
7) Good With Deadlines – This character trait of lawyers is especially important to those types of lawyers who practice in the realm of litigation (i.e. filing and processing law suits).
All court rules (though varying state by state) require certain time limits to file certain papers with the court. If you miss those deadlines, your ability to file those documents may be barred by the court, and possibly end the litigation with your client losing because of your oversight. Then your firm would most likely be sued by the client for malpractice (a headache you don’t want).
Keep reading and learning about how to become a lawyer.
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