There’s no right or wrong type of lawyer. All personality types can make a valuable contribution, though they might be more suited to some legal tasks rather than others.
IP Draughts attributes the success of his firm to its people. Those people have much in common: talent, diligence, high standards, an ability to engage with people, and a straightforward, ethical approach. But they also have a broad range of personalities, which helps us to be stronger as a team.
Some of the different personality types that IP Draughts has seen among his peers over many years (and sometime more than one of these types can be found in the same person) include:
The organiser. Some lawyers are very well-organised and well-prepared, and this helps them to handle complex tasks, including meeting difficult deadlines. This may lead them to be impatient with people who have a more ad hoc approach to life. Example: managing a major corporate transaction that has lots of moving parts and often a challenging timetable.
The rule follower. Some lawyers like to follow a set procedure, which may be one that the organisation has imposed, or one that the lawyer has chosen to adopt. They may clash with people who either don’t follow the rules, or treat the rules as only part of the picture, there to be followed or discarded as best fits the situation. Example: conducting litigation, which involves many rules of practice.
The competitor. Some lawyers see their primary role as “winning” on behalf of their client, often through the lens of a “zero sum game” where every point that one party wins, equates to a point lost by the other party. Example: some one-off commercial transactions, where there is no long-term relationship, and where one’s client wishes to avoid risk wherever possible.
The socialiser. Some lawyers are very people-focused, and see it as part of their role to try to facilitate a smooth business relationship between the contracting parties. This may be a valuable role, as long as they or someone else is focused on the detailed wording of the contract under negotiation.
The problem solver. This is IP Draughts’ comfort zone – trying to find solutions that work for all parties – though he takes on the other roles mentioned above where appropriate. Problem-solving is particularly useful when negotiating relational contracts, as distinct from the one-off type.
We all have to adapt our legal style to the task in front of us, but we may be better at some roles than others. Which type (or types) of lawyer suits you best?
One response to “Which type of lawyer are you?”
Playing a variety of roles is one thing, becoming a different person is another – more difficult, less often seen. Perhaps what makes a good lawyer is the ability to switch between personality types, like a chameleon. I have often thought that many of the senior partners (present company excepted) I have known appear to have come out of the same mould, and now I think about it this chameleon quality is part of their make-up.