Do unexpected phone calls rattle you? Do you hate the idea of talking in front of a group of strangers (or worse, just one or two strangers)? Do you need time to recharge after interacting with people? If you answered yes to these questions, you are likely an introvert (or at least introvert adjacent). For the introvert, the law library part and journal part of law school may sound great, but the Socratic method part and the networking part might sound terrible. If you are the bold introvert that has decided to embark on the law school journey, here is a reading list to support you, motivate you, and give you hope. Enjoy!
The Introverted Lawyer by Heidi K. Brown
This book is right on point. Brown explains how introverts can not only survive, but thrive in the legal profession. Acknowledging that introverts do not fit the lawyer stereotype, she emphasizes that “research indicates that [introverts] bring impactful gifts to the profession, such as active listening, empathy, deliberate thinking, and insightful writing.” Brown even provides a step-by-step process for introverts to find their place and their peace in the legal profession through her “seven-step journey toward authentically empowered advocacy.” As she writes for the smart and quiet introverts, she says, “We just might need a refreshed perspective on how to amplify our voices authentically when it’s time for the legal world to hear our message.” If you are concerned about how your introverted-nature will impact your law school and legal career, this book could provide a helpful guide for processing your fears and overcoming them.
Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck
While not solely directed at introverts, this book dives deep into the psychological research on how your mindset drives your outcomes. Dweck contrasts approaching life with a fixed mindset as opposed to a growth mindset. Introverts may tend to develop a habit of “playing it safe,” but embracing a growth mindset encourages you to move outside your comfort zone to achieve your full potential. Dweck writes that individuals that develop a growth mindset will not succumb to having their heads “filled with limiting thoughts, a fragile sense of belonging, and a belief that other people can define them.” Being an introvert that is taking on the challenges of law school is the stuff of a growth mindset. Just because it may not come naturally does not mean you should avoid the discomfort of a growth experience. This book can help you build your growth mindset as you move through law school and into your legal career.
Introverted Litigators: How to Go From Good to Great by Kate Mangan
This Law School Toolbox blog post provides great personal advice from an attorney that has successfully dealt with her introversion as she navigates her legal career. Acknowledging that litigation may be an initially uncomfortable skill for an introvert to develop, she posits that “armed with some knowledge about what makes introverts perform well, as well as some tricks for faking it, introverts can be calm and charismatic litigators.” And as a bonus resource to consider, Mangan quotes from the popular book about and for introverts, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain.
Be Prepared and Speak Up! A Different Approach to the Socratic Method by Mark Livingston
Few things strike the fear into law school introverts like the Socratic method. This Law School Toolbox blog post provides a positive approach to preparing for the Socratic method by addressing the idea of public speaking. While public speaking itself is not a problem for all introverts, for some it can be a real hurdle. Livingston writes, “Thinking of every opportunity to speak up in class as a painful gauntlet is a recipe to perpetuate those fears and anxieties.” Rather, he suggests the following: “Approach speaking up in class as an opportunity for you to share valuable information, perspective, and opinions with your classmates.” For more on the socratic method, listen to the Law School Toolbox Podcast Episode 398: Start Law School Right – The Socratic Method.
Rules of Procedure
This may seem like an odd suggestion, but embrace the structure the law imposes on lawyers. Especially in the litigation process, an introvert can take comfort in the fact that most court proceedings are not a freewheeling discussion where the loudest talker wins. Hearings and trials are typically highly structured affairs. While some extemporaneous speaking will be necessary, the introvert can plan ahead and know when it will be his or her turn to question a witness, offer evidence, or give a closing statement. Furthermore, judges that deal with all too many extroverted lawyers seem to appreciate the patience and control an introvert brings into a courtroom. Much depends on your practice area, but look to the rules and statutes that control in your area of the law as a comfort blanket to quell some discomfort a public professional situation could induce.
If you find yourself as an introvert in law school, embrace the good of your natural tendencies and intentionally work on overcoming the associated hurdles. Introverts can succeed in the legal profession, and introverts do not have to turn into extroverts to do so.
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