When I decided to start my own practice (right after law school), rather than going for a law firm, I was frowned upon by quite a few. I was asked questions- “Can introverts make successful advocates?”. “Will you be able to argue confidently?” “Networking will be difficult for you!” “You don’t like talking much, how can you be an advocate!” “You are too soft spoken to be an advocate!” So, can introverts excel at litigation?
I want to set the record straight once and for all– Yes, it is possible for an introvert to become a successful lawyer. It is possible for an introvert to argue before the highest of courts, without her less expressive traits betraying her.
i. Introverts are good listeners. Advocates need to be able to hear not only what is said but what is meant, intended and left out. If an advocate can listen to the client well and can ask relevant questions to gather all information, she has understood half the case. Judges also appreciate advocates who listen carefully, and respond with merit.
ii. Introverts think before they speak. It is a great skill to cross reference several facts, anticipate scenarios, and give a measured and befitting reply. They also do not mind speaking when they need to, its just that they choose not to. They prefer silence over being bombastic.
iii. Introverts take measured approach. They know when they can/should rely on their instincts rather than just looking at bare bone facts. Given the nature of advocacy, every case is different. One size fits all just doesn’t cut it!
iv. Introverts are more likely to notice people’s body language and facial expressions, which makes them good at interpersonal communication. Not to mention, demeanor of the witness, and other social engineering skills are a vital tool in any cross examiner’s weaponry.
v. Introverts are perceived to be less aggressive. The temperament of an advocate is a great tool in her arsenal. None of the above can be used to convert an opportunity into success, if the advocate loses her calm in the courtroom.
What do you think? Are you an introvert? Do you believe introverts cannot excel at litigation without being overtly expressive? Or are you one of us who are eager to listen more, be mindful, and respond appropriately?
P.S.- This post is about what makes introverts great advocates. It is not to suggest that extroverts cannot be great advocates, or their qualities are less likely to help them in their endeavour.