As part of our law school & careers features, for paralegals, newly graduates, and those simply hoping to jump into an exciting world of law, here Andrea Hall, Founder and Principle of US based The Hall Law Office, LLC, talks to Lawyer Monthly about choosing a legal career path that will satisfy your needs, challenge your expertise, and suit your personality best.
Your personality is what will help you determine what type of law you should practice. This is something you should really consider before you pick an area of practice. If you are a litigator sitting in a corporate office writing contracts isn’t going to make you happy. If you are someone who likes to be alone working on projects then working a trial case that is high profile will scare the be Jesus out of you. Here are some things to think about before picking an area of expertise.
Where do you put your energy and how do you renew your energy? Do you prefer to spend time with other people (Extroversion), or are you happier spending time alone (Introversion)? Everyone has tendencies of both, yet most people have a tendency to lean strongly one way or the other. Let’s look at them more in-depth:
Being an extrovert means you get most of your energy from being active and spending time with people. If being in a large group of friends energizes you, you probably lean more towards being an extrovert. Extroverts also tend to feel confident and comfortable when speaking to large groups of people, being a team leader, and giving direction. See if these statements fit your personality:
- I’m outgoing, a people person, and I love talking to strangers;
- I’m comfortable in a group of people and easily take charge;
- I have lots of friends and business contacts;
- I often say “yes” to a new project without thinking it through;
- I usually jump right into a project without creating a plan first of what I want to accomplish.
These are all traits of strongly extroverted people. Can you relate?
Introverts gain their energy from within; they like to think through ideas, plan responses in their head, and live in an inner world. They are more comfortable on their own or with only one or two friends. They like to think a project or idea through and make a plan before getting started, taking time to formulate a clear picture of the result they want. Do these sound like you:
- I tend to be reserved and somewhat standoffish in a crowd;
- I like being on my own and doing things alone;
- I only have a few friends, yet they are close, personal friends that I know and trust;
- I tend to get stuck thinking about a project or idea and not taking action.
If you can relate to these statements, you probably lean more towards being an introvert.
Are you a logical thinker and process all the facts or do you tend to make “gut instinct” decisions? Do you rely on facts and principles or do you think about the people involved and make heart-felt decisions?
Thinking means that you like to review all the facts, find the bottom-line truth of a situation, and make a logical, well thought out decision. You tend to analyze the pros and cons of a situation, even making a list of them. And you don’t let other people’s desires influence your decision. See if this sounds like you:
- I’m always looking for logical explanations and solutions to every problem;
- I notice when things are a little “off”, not consistent;
- I enjoy technical explanations where logic is important and things make sense to me;
- I’m always honest about the facts, even if it means I’m not considerate;
- People think I’m too focused and I don’t care or I’m indifferent;
- I tend not to take people into consideration in my decisions.
If you can relate to most or all of these, then you lean more towards being a thinker than a feeler.
If you are concerned about other people, how they feel and their points-of-view, then you are more of a Feeling person. You tend to be concerned with values and how your decisions will affect other people. You like to create harmony and you are a warm, caring, and considerate person. These probably sound a lot like you:
- I’m always concerned about other people and their thoughts, ideas, and problems;
- I want everyone to get along and experience harmony together;
- I make heart-based decisions and I try to be compassionate towards others;
- I believe that being polite and considerate is more important than telling the “cold-hard” truth;
- I can be empathetic, sincere, and sometimes a bit mushy.
If you’re saying “that’s me” then you are definitely a feeler.
Really determine who you are naturally not who someone else wants you to be. This will help determine your area of expertise and how you choose to practice law throughout your career. Have fun exploring different areas of law and your personality. Not every person is cut out for litigation and not everyone wants to work in an office without contact to the outside world. The truth is every position is needed just make sure it is the best fit for you.