Think you have what it takes? Take the quiz: So You Want to Be a Lawyer?
I was the kid who made weekly trips to my public library with a dozen books in tow. My love for writing wasn’t something I learned in school — it was innate, as much a part of me as my own skin. No matter who you are, everyone’s suited to be good at something. And if you find that the qualities below describe you pretty well, you just might have what it takes to be a top-notch attorney.
“You can’t go into it thinking you know the answer right off the bat,” attorney Emily Raxenberg said. Instead, lawyers think of all the possibilities to reach their conclusion, because if they only look at an argument from one side, they will miss their opponent’s perspective. There’s nothing wrong with being confident in your side, but it should be tempered with flexibility. Being open-minded means you’re adaptable, and if you’re able to adapt to an evolving argument you stand a better chance of winning your case.
2. You Like to Play the Mediator
Were you the kid in elementary school who broke up scuffles on the blacktop? If so, you’ve got the right attitude to be an attorney. Although lawyers are constantly dealing with conflict, their goal isn’t to wallow in disagreement; it’s to reach a point of general consensus. “For me, it started with having a sister and wanting to be fair… From that I became focused on not law, per se, but justice for all,” Raxenburg said.
3. You’ve Got Integrity
Students don’t realize how important their reputation is in the legal field. “It’s actually a pretty small world,” third-year UCLA law student Kathryn Shoemaker said. “That’s why it’s really important to have integrity in everything you do from law school into your legal career.” If your peers and professors find you respectful and your record looks squeaky clean, you’re on the right track.
4. You Think Outside the Box
“It’s important to be innovative—to be able to think up creative arguments that will help you advance your client’s interests,” Shoemaker said. Your opponent surely will have thought of the most obvious counter-arguments to his claim. Because of this, you need to develop a new reasoning. Did you convince your parents that celebrating New Years Eve in Cancun was totally safe? Did you secure that extension on your midterm essay? Did you persuade your fraternity to join the school flash mob? You may be at natural at this tactic.
Did you parents always say, “You should be a lawyer?” Find out for yourself if law school is right for you by attending an LSAC Law School Forum. Register ASAP.
5. You Have a Tireless Work Ethic
If you’re determined to succeed, you will. “Law school is a lot of work. So is being an actual lawyer,” Shoemaker said. That’s why she recommends you reflect on your work ethic. If you buckled down in undergrad, consistently reviewed your notes, hosted study groups and didn’t stop even when everyone was tailgating for Homecoming, then you’ve got the stamina to survive law school.
6. You Love Public Speaking
Lawyers get paid to talk. They make their money speaking in front of large courtrooms, in front of people who judge (quite literally) everything they say. If you’re meek and soft-toned, you’ll have a more difficult time convincing others of your point. On the other hand, if you project your voice with poise and confidence, your audience will interpret that self-assuredness as credibility.
7. You’re Confident Outside of the Courtroom Too
“The most difficult part about law school, in my experience, is self-doubt.” Shoemaker said. When other smart and ambitious students surround you, you can’t help but compare yourself. Not to mention, you’re constantly barraged with pages upon pages of reading, extracurricular activities, pressures to ‘succeed,’ and the hunt for a job. If you can strike a healthy balance between humility and self-confidence, as suggested by Shoemaker, this is your calling for a career in law.
Even if you have a couple of these qualities, the next step for you is attending an LSAC Law School Forum. The Law School Admission Council (LSAC) hosts free Law School Forums every year nationwide with live workshops and one-on-one access to law school reps. Register here.
(main image via flickr.com)
With these tips from lawyers, you can handle any argument–even if you’re on the losing side.