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people who are shy going into law

mellymelly Posts: 24Registered User New Member
edited October 2009 in Law School
im an undergraduate student and im thinking about maybe in the future going into law one day but ive always been a shy person i was wondering if shy people could manage a career in law and if yes what areas of law could someone who's shy could manage and what areas of law should i stay away from and if anyone here knows someone who shy and has a career in law
Post edited by melly on
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Replies to: people who are shy going into law

  • greennbluegreennblue Posts: 1,736Registered User Senior Member
    I'm interested in this thread since I know a student who would be good at law, but is very shy. You'd have to at least be able to work with people one-on-one, and be able to tolerate a certain amount of conflict. I imagine that writing wills would be OK, patent law, and real estate would be worth looking into. Stay out of the courtroom.
  • unbelievablemunbelievablem Posts: 1,185Registered User Senior Member
    the issue that a shy person has to carefully consider is not simply the issue of dealing with clients or adversaries. you have to also carefully consider whether you would be able to deal with other lawyers within your own firm. partners can be very demanding. law tends to attract people who are outspoken and quick to voice their opinions. a person who has difficulty speaking up, expressing their views and standing up for them could be at a serious disadvantage even within their own firm.
    you have to seriously think about what you mean by being "shy." you don't have to be loud and obnoxious to be a lawyer -- but you do have to willing to speak up even when others are expressing different opinions or challenging your conclusions.
  • lskinnerlskinner Posts: 914Registered User Member
    If you are really smart, I imagine you could swing a job writing appellate briefs. Also, certain areas of tax might not be too bad.

    But on the whole, law is really not a profession for shy people. If you are a shy law school graduate, it's a lot more likely you'll end up in a job you find miserable and quit the profession than that you'll find a job that fits you well.

    Just my humble opinion.
  • lskinnerlskinner Posts: 914Registered User Member
    If you are really smart, I imagine you could swing a job writing appellate briefs. Also, certain areas of tax might not be too bad.

    But on the whole, law is really not a profession for shy people. If you are a shy law school graduate, it's a lot more likely you'll end up in a job you find miserable and quit the profession than that you'll find a job that fits you well.

    Just my humble opinion.
  • LosLos Posts: 124Registered User Junior Member
    I wouldn't expect anyone to be a "natural" at all parts of a profession's skillset, so if you're interested in it, develop that skill! Every one of your peers will have to do the same for their own personal weaknesses.

    Search around for resources on overcoming shyness. It's quite common and so there are a lot out there! Of course, certain areas of law require more boldness than others, ie a prosecuter vs an ip lawyer, but overcoming your shyness would dramatically improve job -and life- satisfaction whichever direction you choose. GL
  • mickley0007mickley0007 Posts: 164Registered User Junior Member
    I agree that law is not a field for shy people, but I also know that there is a certain edginess that you gain once you go to law school. I haven't met an attorney yet who doesn't have that edge/sharpness that creates confidence. Professors are demanding in law school, and I think those 3 years will be a good start to overcome your shyness.
  • unbelievablemunbelievablem Posts: 1,185Registered User Senior Member
    actually, what mickley0007 mentions raises another issue to consider -- whether the shy person thinks he/she can survive law school. i think what mickey describes is largely a self-selecting phenomenon -- the type of people usually attracted to the law are those people with the edge/sharpness mickley talks about -- law school and practicing law may enhance that personality trait, but i really don't think it will cause it to arise in someone for whom such a trait simply isn't part of their make-up.

    in law school, especially the first year, you will be called on and grilled by your professors, whether or not you volunteer. you will be surrounded by other students who tend to be people who like voicing their opinions. will your shyness make law school itself an unbearable process?

    i think you have to carefully consider what you mean when you say you are shy and how that corresponds to what will be expected of you in law school and in practice. i've known very successful lawyers who were on the quiet side -- but they weren't shy about expressing themselves and standing behind their opinions.

    lawyers have to be able to state their position and stand behind it -- whether presenting it to a senior attorney, client, adversary or judge/arbiter. sometimes that can be done in writing -- but even if you write the most brilliant memo/brief/letter someone may then question you about what you've stated -- can you handle that and not be afraid to stand up for what you stated? the law is a business -- getting and keeping clients is part of that business -- it depends on the nature of the practice as to how involved you get to be in this. do you want a solo practice? if so, are you willing to market yourself to clients? larger firms may be more able to employ a lawyer who has little need to deal with clients -- is that what you want? but even then, would your shyness keep you from asserting yourself with your own colleagues? only you can determine what will or will not likely be within your comfort zone and how far out of that comfort zone you are willing to push yourself.
  • MDT89MDT89 Posts: 414Registered User Member
    It seems like a lot of writing I don't think you will get very far if you are not charismatic as it will be tough to get a partnership if no one knows you.
  • kev07wankev07wan Posts: 700Registered User Member
    I think corporate law offers opportunity for shy students? From what I've heard, its more based on research and working alone.
  • unbelievablemunbelievablem Posts: 1,185Registered User Senior Member
    From what I've heard, its more based on research and working alone.

    well - you still need to deal with the other attorneys in your firm -- and it may be hard for a shy person to assert themselves with demanding assertive senior attorneys - especially when there are many other associates willing to assert themselves. also, at some point in one's career, i would think even a corporate lawyer would aspire to dealing with clients. staying in the library to research is a fairly limited career goal.

    the law is by definition a service industry involving people. i think a shy person has to seriously consider what limitations their shyness will impose on them and whether that is really compatible with a satisfying legal career.
  • unbelievablemunbelievablem Posts: 1,185Registered User Senior Member
    one more thing for shy people to think about -- people on this board often act as if a degree from one of the top law schools guarantees you your choice of jobs at any top law firm. well the school you attend will certainly help you get a foot in the interview room door, but unless things have changed since i went to law school there is a fairly extensive interviewing process -- and some people fair much better than others in that process -- in fact i knew some fellow students (at a top law school) for whom the face to face interview was their greatest hurdle in getting a job.

    what type of people do you think lawyers are generally looking for? shy quiet ones? or ones that are comfortable talking with people and come across as confident and at ease?

    again, a shy person really has to consider what their career goals really are and how their shyness may impede them.
  • MSUDadMSUDad Posts: 487Registered User Member
    The #1 job of an attorney is to protect his/her clients from the other members of the profession. Clients want "aggressive" representation, whether it's litigation or real estate. Most of it is confrontational in nature. Some people overcome, some don't.

    If I tracked the careers of the people I'd say were shy, they would go this way:

    Strong writer, so did well in school - clerked for a judge or did research for a firm - worked in a job that didn't involve client contact, mostly government (making far less money than private practice) - transferred to another career or quit work to raise a family

    Having said that, it's a wonderful education for a variety of other fields, but you'd have to weigh costs and benefits for yourself.
  • massguymassguy Posts: 76Registered User Junior Member
    A significant number of lawyers aren't as outgoing as you think. This is a stereotype perpetuated mainly due to the media representation of lawyers, and the sense that only outgoing lawyers succeed.

    Here is an excellent article that supports this reality.
    http://www.equaljusticeworks.org/alumni/index.php?view=detail&id=6010
  • unbelievablemunbelievablem Posts: 1,185Registered User Senior Member
    there is a difference between being "outgoing" and being able speak up and present yourself and your opinions. there is a difference between being introspective and being shy about then articulating what your introspection has led you to conclude. there is a difference between being reluctant to network effectively and being too shy to effectively voice your position.

    my views are not based on stereotypes due to media representation of lawyers -- they are based on my personal experience as a former lawyer dealing with many other lawyers. being quiet and pensive is not the same as being shy -- i knew many lawyers who were on the quiet side -- but i can not think of any successful lawyer i knew who i would consider "shy." and for clarification, the following definition from dictionary.com is what i am thinking of when someone says they are "shy" --
    Shy, bashful, diffident imply a manner that shows discomfort or lack of confidence in association with others. Shy implies a constitutional shrinking from contact or close association with others, together with a wish to escape notice

    to some extent the issue is what someone means when they say they are "shy" -- if it includes a wish to escape notice or a lack of confidence in association with others, i don't think that it bodes well for a legal career. if the mean they are just quiet and not gregarious, but they are confident and have no problem standing up for themselves and dealing with people when stating their opinions then i think a legal career may be fine.
  • lskinnerlskinner Posts: 914Registered User Member
    I basically agree with unbelievablem. If you could break down the population by shyness percentile, I think you would find many attorneys around the 50th percentile who do just fine as attorneys but who may need a kick in the rear to go out and get business.

    People who are in the shyest 5 or 10% of the population aren't really that well suited for most attorney jobs.

    Just my humble opinion.
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