We are normally under the impression that the “quiet law student” is one that is either shy, an introvert, or could possibly be facing social anxiety disorder or social phobia. Classroom management techniques frequently used in law schools, such as the Socratic Method and cold-calling, usually will cause discomfort in this type of student. Although the quiet law student becomes uncomfortable when cold-called, this response should not be confused with their preparation or capability to answer their instructors’ questions.
Usually, as a result of their fears they are the most prepared person in the classroom and could easily answer questions. However, no amount of preparation can put this student’s mind at ease, breaking an otherwise academically strong student’s confidence causing them to hide in the back of the room or skip class all together. In addition, processing of new information and comprehension of legal concepts can also be impaired with the anxiety. This hurdle on the learning process could cause a disastrous effect on their overall academic performance. However this does not calls for the end in the law school. Rather it is upon us to make the introversion, a curse or a blessing.
The practice of law requires a lot of solitary work/research/thought and more listening than talking. Therefore we often analyze that most lawyers tend towards being introverts. Unlikely to enjoy much of the practice of law are the people who thrive on tons of human interaction and group activity.
Many lawyers spend a lot of time by themselves—reading, writing, thinking—compared to other jobs where the majority of the work is interacting. Introverts make good lawyers, especially for clients who want a thoughtful answer.”
Though the legal profession tends to attract introverts, both types can thrive in law. Many attorneys—such as district attorneys and public defenders—are extroverts who thrive on being in court and in negotiations all day. Importantly, too, introverts can absolutely do extroverted things—it just may not be in their comfort zone. For instance, while extroverts are likely drawn to trial work, not all trial lawyers are extroverts. “For introverts, trial work is a performance. They’re like those actors who are introverted—they can do it, but it exhausts them.” Because they’re internal processors, introverts are often excellent listeners. “That is a great asset in client development and representation.”
It’s tempting to confuse introversion with a lack of assertion, shyness or arrogance. But they’re not the same thing. Rather, it’s about whether someone does most of their processing internally or prefers to talk it out. “When you’re asked a question, do you pause, look away and go inside to process? That’s introversion. Extroverts talk and then think. And they get their energy from getting on the phone or seeing someone.”
While extroverts may be confident and charming, One should not be biased towards the talkative, articulate candidates because those characteristics aren’t necessarily those that breed success in the legal profession”. “They don’t directly mean that person will be a good lawyer. They may be confident and charming, but they may walk around the office instead of doing their work.
In the law success often requires people skills, e.g., working with opposing counsel, persuading a court/jury, or winning new business, so people may not fare well in certain legal fields who aren’t “personality plus” types. But being an introvert doesn’t mean that one lacks people skills, merely that one is more inward-oriented.
Jennifer B. Kahnweiler, who wrote “The Introverted Leader: Building on Your Quiet Strength,” believes that it is important to distinguish between shyness and introversion.
“There is a difference between introversion and shyness,” Kahnweiler wrote. “Shyness is driven by fear and social anxiety. Although the symptoms may overlap, e.g., avoidance of public speaking, introversion is a preference and should not be considered a problem.”
In “Personality Types,” Psychologist Carl Jung defined an introvert as someone who prefers quiet social settings. They prefer to be left alone and would rather listen than making meaningless small talk. They recharge their energy by isolating themselves. On the other hand, extroverts are energetic, talkative, outgoing and sociable. They are comfortable and enjoy all of the social activities that they can take part in such as going to networking events to recharge their energy.
And introverts, be bold and step out of your comfort zone once in a while. Don’t let the patriarchy drags you down. Try everything while you can and be proud of your introversion. Or just be proud of who you are and be comfortable in your own skin.
Don’t let the negativity of the world brings you down. Stop hiding inside the house. Wear that introversion badge proudly on your chest and work it! Let the world see your true self.
So what about career options? Someone who is painfully shy to the point of not being able to speak up when necessary probably wouldn’t do well in adversarial fields like litigation?. And for people who really want to focus on the solitary practice of law, things like government/regulatory work, tax, academia, and trust/estate law are often popular. Becoming a judge is many legal introverts’ dream (including mine). But being a plain vanilla introvert isn’t a disqualification anywhere in the law.