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Can you succeed in business/corporate law as an introvert?


ultra
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ultra
  • Law School Admit

Given the nature of corporate and even smaller business law firms as profit-driven enterprises, I'm curious how much the "schmoozing", networking, and socializing of the business world in general is critical to your success as a business lawyer? As a partner, I realize you must be responsible for bringing in business. But as a grunt associate, can an introvert with a lack of social savviness succeed, and enjoy working in, the business law environment? Do you need to be an unofficial salesperson for your firm?

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LMP
  • Law Student

I think a lot of it comes down to how likeable and memorable you are. And more often than not those traits are associated with people who are, at first, more outgoing and gregarious. 

The profit driven rational actor you are envisioning might exist at the level of a firm at large. But at the hiring level, one a certain level of base competency has been established across the candidate pool, the relevant metric becomes likeability. The hiring manager will all things being equal want to work with the more likeable person. 

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cherrytree
  • Lawyer

I'm a 2021 grad and can't speak to this question from an experienced lawyer's perspective, but based on what I observe in highly intelligent law students who lack a certain level of workplace social skills and/or full-time work experience before law school, they tend to label themselves as "introverted" out of self-consciousness. Speaking for myself, it's a normal reaction to being intimidated by seeing the more outgoing and gregarious types of personalities among their peers and fearing that they are not as attractive as candidates for hire during recruits. However, I would caution anyone who self-identifies as "introverted" against dwelling too much on this label. Very rarely do you meet people who are 100% extroverted or 100% introverted in everyday life, most of us exist somewhere along the spectrum, and do need to go home at the end of the day to recharge our batteries, unplugged from work. If you are set on doing business law, don't self-select out of your potential for success at this very early stage of pursuing a career in this field. At any rate, the exit options for corporate work are comparably numerous and cushion-y.

Being likeable and being more sensitive to and in tune with how others feel/think/react are not mutually exclusive. At the hiring stage, being eloquent, confident (albeit quietly), and conveying self-assurance in your manner of speaking and advocating for yourself as a desirable candidate will get you far. At the career stage, the bottom line is making sure the quality of your work backs you up as an asset to the firm. Business development and "schmoozing" are important, and in time you will gain the confidence necessary to be good at navigating those workplace social contexts because you are soaking in the professional experience and bettering yourself as a lawyer. Be patient with yourself and the time you will need to get to that stage of comfort with socializing and networking. It's possible to project competence and confidence despite introverted traits in your personality.

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Conge
  • Lawyer

Yes. You can. There are many ways to be a successful lawyer. The highly intelligent introvert who bills a ton of hours on a complicated area of law is successful. The moderately bright M&A lawyer who can walk into any room and leave with a new client for the firm is also successful. Most lawyers tend to fall in the middle somewhere, and tend to be moderate successful as well. 

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  • 11 months later...
SissysommerFeldt4
  • Lawyer

Have any of you succeeded in business as an introvert?

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realpseudonym
  • Lawyer
12 minutes ago, SissysommerFeldt4 said:

Have any of you succeeded in business as an introvert?

Yes. 

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Ohshmagoda
  • Lawyer
On 7/29/2021 at 7:35 PM, ultra said:

But as a grunt associate, can an introvert with a lack of social savviness succeed, and enjoy working in, the business law environment? Do you need to be an unofficial salesperson for your firm?

Introverts are often excellent junior/mid-level associates. Honestly, a lot of junior corporate work is done 90% in solitude with calls/discussions making up the remaining 10%. Perhaps I’m exaggerating slightly, but even if the majority of a given day is spent on calls and in meetings, as a junior you will be listening much more than you will be leading those conversations.

We shouldn’t conflate introversion/extroversion with things that are totally unrelated. All lawyers should have good communication skills, but that’s not a problem for introverts. To the extent that we want to talk about the stereotypical/caricatured features of introvert/extrovert, I’d argue that the introvert is very well suited for corporate work (i.e. able to teach themselves, have attention to detail, are organized on their own, are independently hard working and don’t need to be micromanaged).

Perhaps some compote groups have a culture where being supper social is critical, but that’s not my experience.

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Ryn
  • Lawyer
3 hours ago, Ohshmagoda said:

compote groups

Apple? Peach?

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realpseudonym
  • Lawyer
3 hours ago, Ohshmagoda said:

Perhaps some compote groups have a culture where being supper social is critical, but that’s not my experience.

6 minutes ago, Ryn said:

Apple? Peach?

Even us introverts can be enticed out to supper socials if the desserts are good enough. 

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  • 1 month later...
JadedBayStreetLawyer
  • Lawyer

Yes. At the top end of the market, things can get so lucrative and specialized that it pays to have someone who is just really good at their job. You wont make as much as the guy bringing in the clients though. But you'll do just fine. 

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