Looking around at the fundamental personalities of lawyers, you start to notice some distinct patterns that emerge in how we operate on a day-to-day basis.
As much as I am not a fan of boxing people into categories, it can be useful to identify with a particular personality type, either for yourself, or for those around you.
Why? Because the better you know yourself, and the better you know others, the more you’ll be able to work productively with them, respond to enquiries in a meaningful way, and ultimately be a more cohesive and well-functioning team.
On the other hand, knowing what kind of lawyer you are dealing with on the other side of a particular matter (if there is one) can help immeasurably when it comes to responding appropriately, communicating well, and achieving the best outcomes for your client.
In the graphic below I have identified six personality types that I’ve observed in my time on legal practice. They are not exclusive, nor are they designed to be self-contained. It might be that you have a little of one category in a little of another. But I suspect you identify pretty strongly with one or more of these categories of lawyer. Which one are you?
The cool kid loves being a lawyer. They like the part where they get to dress up, go out to lunch, and a good salary and be perceived as being successful. However, what they don’t like is when they have to get involved in the nitty-gritty of legal practice. They view themselves as being too good for some categories of work, especially when they are quite junior where they are often delegated work of a menial nature. Where the cool kid excels is in exuding confidence. They are able to mix it with people more senior than them, argue well even without a strong foundation in facts, and they can be perceived as older than they actually are. On the downside, they are sometimes seen to be arrogant as a result of these factors.
Yes I can
The yes-man (or the yes-woman) is the lawyer who does not know how to say no. There is a task to be done, this type of lawyer will do it no matter what. They have a tendency to overload themselves, however, and so they need to be properly managed in terms of their workload. Sometimes they have a tendency to take on more than they should, and as a result, can need some help.
The teacher is the lawyer who likes to know everything. They have an uncanny ability to recall cases, and they don’t mind sharing their knowledge with others. Don’t think that you can outsmart the teacher, because they will always know another case from another jurisdiction or another law that will get them across the line in terms of their argument. Where the teacher falls down sometimes is in their ability to communicate in a fashion that resonates with clients. Although their colleagues in other lawyers appreciate their form of communication and can absorb a lot of knowledge from them, clients sometimes feel alienated if the teacher goes too nerdy.
The gambler is the lawyer who will always roll the dice. To them, a 50-50 is a good chance. They have a tendency to take risks and as a result many clients like them because of their attitude. However, sometimes their bravado can get in the way of sensible decision-making, and is not always assist them with clients who are more inclined towards risk averse decision-making.
Little Miss volatility (or Mr volatility) is the lawyer that you don’t want to bother. They might be in a fantastic mood, but they can turn on a dime. Unfortunately, these lawyers can be very difficult to work with. They have a tendency to be extremely “busy” all the time, and it can sometimes stay seem like a herd of elephants has come through the office when they are “in the zone”. The upside to the volatile lawyer is that they do get things done. Although they consume resources (both human and other) they do so to great effect.
It’s All OK
And the final category of lawyer that I have identified today is the type of lawyer that nothing phases. You cannot upset this lawyer, you cannot get them off track, you cannot disrupt their productivity. They are cool, calm, and collected. The downside here, however, is that you don’t always know if they are taking things as seriously as they ought. Their even temper can make them difficult to read and so you never quite know whether the message of urgency has gotten across or not.
Which are you?
So which type of lawyer you? Have you got another category?