Is There a Place for Introverts in BigLaw?

By Andrew Chow, Esq. on April 10, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Introvert attorneys and BigLaw may not seem like the perfect match. But personality tests suggest introvert lawyers are more common than you may think, and their voices are increasingly being heard.

BigLaw attorneys are often stereotyped as extroverts: outspoken go-getters who thrive on trial work, contentious negotiations, and arguments that require them to think on their feet.

By contrast, being an introvert is generally considered "a second-class personality trait, somewhere between a disappointment and a pathology," Susan Cain, a former Wall Street lawyer and admitted introvert, told Reuters.

It shouldn't be that way, Cain asserts in her new book, "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking." (BigLaw introverts may want to add this to their reading list.)

The problem: American culture is dominated by the "extrovert ideal," Cain explains in her book, "while in Asia (at least before the Westernization of the past several decades), silence is golden."

Introvert lawyers actually outnumber extroverts, a law firm consultant explained in a FindLaw Law Firm Management article. Results from the famous Myers Briggs personality test found 57% of attorneys are introverts -- as compared to 25% of the general population.

But a recent column in Wired magazine suggests new technology is allowing introverts to make an impression at work like never before. Sharing documents for team collaboration, for example, lets introverts collect their thoughts and generate better ideas.

Technology like cloud computing plays to introverts' strengths by letting them work in private, ex-lawyer/author Susan Cain told Wired. "This is precisely what brings out the best in introverts," she said.

So how can introvert lawyers land a BigLaw job -- especially when face-to-face networking remains a big factor? The website Lawyerist suggests introverts may want to sign up for mentoring programs, join organizations that meet regularly, or participate in online discussion groups where your personality can shine through.

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