From Perry Mason to Go Call Saul, gregarious attorneys have always been a staple of American entertainment.
Indeed, ever since the OJ Simpson trial of 1995, even real-life lawyers have garnered some measure of celebrity in the U.S. But what do all of these popular lawyers seem to have in common?
And yep, that’s right…they’re extroverts.
This got us wondering; is there a place for introverts in the law?
You know who I’m talking about, don’t you? Those of us who are quiet, self-reflective, and not only comfortable being alone but prefer to be completely out of the spotlight – can we become successful legal professionals?
To answer that question, we need look no further than these two introverted lawyers who you may have heard of previously: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and former Georgia House Democratic Leader Stacey Abrams.
While they are certainly standout individuals, they may not be alone in their combination of introversion and successful lawyering. According to some reports, in fact, the practice of law is one of the most lucrative careers an introvert can select.
With that in mind, let’s talk about how and why introverts actually make terrific lawyers.
Introspection is a critical skill for lawyers
Introspection, of course, refers to one’s ability to look inward.
My fellow introverts know that we’ve turned this skill into an art form. We’re constantly questioning whether we’ve done enough, researched enough, thought through every possible angle to an argument, and so on and so on. Those close to us might even say we live in our heads too much.
But did you know that this sort of introspection can actually make you a better lawyer?
If you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Lawyers need to know where their strengths and weaknesses lie. Introspection provides this.
Lawyers, especially litigators, need to look at every issue from their opponents’ perspective as well as their clients’ perspective. Introspection allows this.
To be honest, the failure to stop and really think things through in this manner could actually be detrimental to one’s legal career.
We’ve all witnessed that blustering attorney who says whatever comes to mind at any given moment. As someone who has witnessed thousands of court hearings, I can tell you that lack of introspection can actually do more harm than good to a lawyer’s career.
Introverts know how to listen
Some of the greatest lawyers I’ve ever watched question witnesses (whether at a deposition or at trial) are actually extreme introverts
As I studied them in an effort to improve my own interviewing skills, I noticed that they all did one thing really well: they listened to what the person across the table was actually saying.
This shouldn’t be a surprise.
Active listening is one of the most important skills a legal professional can have. And introverts, of course, are notoriously great listeners.
Sometimes it’s best not to be the person who takes up all the air in a room. Instead, sitting back and truly listening to what others say can be a really strong legal strategy.
People like introverts
It’s not a stretch to say that extroverts love attention. Many of them seek attention in very positive ways and many, especially extroverted attorneys, become great at things like business development and negotiating deals.
That’s not always a bad thing. Their extrovert affable ways make people want to be around them.
Did you know, however, that people tend to also be highly attracted to introverts?
There are a lot of reasons for this, among them the aforementioned skills of listening and introspection (along with cooler things like their mysterious nature). It’s easy to be around these kinds of people, and their studious nature can make other people feel seen and welcomed.
Regardless of the reasoning, lawyers who put off a vibe that makes other people want to be around them will obviously enjoy greater professional success than those who drive people away.
The point is, introverts often fear they’re not likable by virtue of their reserved nature. In actuality, the exact opposite is often true – especially for other introverts.
Introverts make great leaders
There can be no doubt that lawyers need to be great leaders.
Many people associate leadership with extroversion, but the two don’t necessarily always go together. In fact, introversion is a type of leadership superpower. Some of the most effective leaders are quiet, humble people who care more about their team than their ego.
Examples of this come from the business world, where two of the great leaders of our time, Warren Buffet and Bill Gates, are said to have introverted leadership styles.
In truth, introverts really are excellent leaders. Their tendencies toward achieving goals, as well as their ability to let other people shine, are just two of the qualities that make them effective.
Notwithstanding all of these great attributes that introverts can bring to the practice of law, many are still weary to step into the profession.
It seems, however, that some of that tell-tale introspection is in order here. Ultimately, introverts are uniquely equipped to succeed in any profession. Law just happens to be one we’re especially good at.