By Vivian Uzoma
When I was offered admission to study law, many people wanted to know if I was okay. They asked questions like “aren’t you too quiet to be a lawyer?” “Do you have the strength for lawyers’ wahala?” “Are you sure this choice is good for you?” I heard this over and over again but the people asking the questions were not to be blamed. I was (and still am) an introvert to the core.
The result is that even before graduation, I had plans of working in the corporate world. I just wanted a job that would involve sitting behind a computer all day and attending to files alone. No arguments, no addressing judges and magistrates, no dealing with worried clients etc.
After school, I applied for every job that was closely or remotely legal. Interviews for most of these jobs were held in different towns and I had to travel to attend them. On one occasion, I lost the original copies of my credentials, and it took the help of a Good Samaritan to get it back. At the end of day, I embraced law practice and litigation.
As a young lawyer, I always wished I could just turn to an extrovert over night. I would look at lawyers who are well versed in the art of court display and wish I could be like them. Whenever I met such lawyers, I got slightly intimidated and work harder to prove myself to clients.
Dear new wig, one myth about being a lawyer is that you must be an extrovert and should be ready to make trouble at the drop of a hat. Your “gra gra” level should be so high that it can erect a 20 storey building. The thought is that if you are too quiet, you will not be able to represent your clients well. That is the reason many clients would rather go for a lawyer that can shout and display in court, and not the one that will be speak “phonee” in court.
The fact is if you an introverted lawyer, many people see you as a strange person. Some will ask you why you studied the wrong course. Even as a law teacher, my students ask how they can change from being introverts to extroverts. The question arises from the belief that as an introvert, you cannot be a successful lawyer. However, this is far from the truth.
As an introvert, there are certain benefits you bring to the table.
Most introverts are good listeners and this is one aspect of communication skills every lawyer should possess. Other great attributes of introverts are that they are:
- Deep thinkers,
- Great researchers
- Wonderful writers; and
- Analytical in nature.
I have had to embrace myself for whom I am and it is yielding great results. I do not have to be someone else to do my job well. By the way, I have realised that it is harder being an imitation of another person instead of an original version of myself.
I am a lawyer and an introvert. It is not paradoxical. If you belong to this club, don’t feel bad about it. We look strange but we are good at what we do. Please may we know ourselves.
I hope this meets you well. Good morning and do have a wonderful day.
Vivian is a Law Lecturer and a Writer. The above was culled from her Facebook page