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Requirement of Self-Assessment for Lawyers

published February 14, 2013

By Author - LawCrossing
Published By
( 123 votes, average: 4 out of 5)
What do you think about this article? Rate it using the stars above and let us know what you think in the comments below.
Ideally, work is supposed to be fun. However, if you are looking for a job right now, fun may be the furthest thing from your mind. Any job opening may seem like a good prospect to you now. Even if you are employed, you may feel "stuck" in your job and ready to jump at the first opportunity.

Accepting a long-term/permanent position out of desperation, however, can lead you back to the same rut you were in. Too often candidates feel at the mercy of a bad job market and believe that job satisfaction is a luxury. Granted, making a career change can be difficult-but if you are in the market for a job, you also have the opportunity to find something that you like much better than your previous job.

Whether you are looking for your first or your fifth legal position, do not short-change yourself. Take some time to think about what you really want. Your focus should be inward, with the purpose being to figure out how you would like to spend your career without being limited by what you think you could get employed to do. The paradox of a job search is that you must be focused, yet open to the possibilities at the same time. Think beyond your current field from the outset, not only after you have experienced difficulty in your search.

Exploring Your Personal Style, Motives, Values and Skills

It is important to be able to articulate your strengths, passions, preferred work style, goals, enthusiasms, values, contributions, potential, ideals, interest areas, temperament, accomplishments, special knowledge and motivations. It is equally important to be aware of your weaknesses so that you can minimize them. Try to think like a Madison Avenue advertiser. For example, if you were trying to sell toothpaste that when used regularly prevented cavities and tasted awful, your commercial would not start out "Brand X tastes really awful, but you will never get a cavity!" The only thing your audience will remember is that your product does not taste good. By the same token, highlighting the fact that "although I have no litigation experience, I have..." emphasizes your weakness! You must always play to your strengths in the job search process.

Lawyers are naturally proficient in the analysis and synthesis of data. And what better subject to research than yourself? Self-assessment is the key to any successful career, yet most lawyers fail to do it. At best, they can assess their lifestyles-where and how they want to live, what their immediate needs are, and what their needs are likely to be tomorrow.
These are certainly important considerations, but evaluating lifestyles is no substitution for self-assessment.

The process of self-assessment will afford you the opportunity to:
  • Clarify your objectives
  • Articulate your goals
  • Describe and market yourself to potential employers
  • Evaluate employment options
  • Take charge of your future
You survived the first year of law school; you survived the bar examination; surely you can survive the equally challenging experience of self-assessment. It will take time and effort to recall the experiences you have had throughout your lifetime and categorize them into those which have frustrated you, challenged you, brought you happiness, etc., but it will be time well spent.

Personal Style

Career theorist John Holland developed a theory base on the assumption that there are six types of people and six types of jobs-Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising and Conventional. He hypothesized that people are naturally drawn to jobs in which they can be themselves, playing to their strengths, surrounded by people like themselves.

Discovery of your type allows you to understand who you really are -at the core. It describes how you function when you are most relaxed, operating in the world without effort, and under no pressure.

These six types also can be extended to the legal profession. Different types of people are naturally drawn to different types of practice. Consider the following types.

STYLE: Prefers to deal with things more than ideas or people. Prefers concrete vs. abstract work tasks. Basically less sociable with structured thought pattern.
POSSIBLE PRACTICE SETTINGS: Regulatory Affairs Contract Review Environmental


STYLE: Intellectual, abstract, analytical, independent, sometimes radical and task oriented.
POSSIBLE PRACTICE SETTINGS: Litigation Judicial Clerk Law


STYLE: Imaginative, independent and extroverted. Values aesthetics, and prefers self- expression through the art
POSSIBLE PRACTICE SETTINGS: Entertainment Law Trademark/copyright


STYLE: Prefers social interaction, social presence, concerned with social problems, re-ligious, community service oriented, and interested in educational activities.
POSSIBLE PRACTICE SETTINGS: Advocacy Public Defender Government Service Trust and Estates Family Law


STYLE: Extroverted, aggressive, adventurous, dominant, persuasive. Prefers lead-ership roles and makes use of good verbal skills.
POSSIBLE PRACTICE SETTINGS: Sole Practitioner Investment Banker Venture Capital Trial Lawyer


STYLE: Practical, well-controlled, sociable, rather conservative. Prefers structured tasks and prefers conformity sanctioned by
POSSIBLE PRACTICE SETTINGS: Business Law In-house Corporate Counsel Government Service


Many of us spend more time planning our vacations than we do planning our careers. We are not clear about what is most important to us and arrive at decisions based not on reason, but based on feelings and intuitions.

Why did you decide to become an attorney? It seems like a simple enough question yet it is surprising that many attorneys cannot respond. People usually cite the customary, obligatory reasons like "to create a better society" or "to put my intellect to good use"; they tend to avoid the responses that they became lawyers for the money, or because of the glamour portrayed on TV and in the movies or simply because it was there. But keep in mind that goals change throughout careers. What moves you to action today may bore you and disillusion you tomorrow. Change should not be seen as a sign of weakness nor as a lack of commitment. Rather, change should be seen as a prerequisite to personal and professional growth.

Many times, obligations and justifications become overriding considerations in choosing career paths. For example, once the investment in law school has been made, there is enormous pressure to seek employment where one can earn the highest financial return-usually in the private sector. Goals of public service, politics or lawyering for the poor and unfortunate tend to wither as the reality sets in that efficiency and economics point in only one direction. To help you articulate your motives ask yourself:
  • What are my priorities?
  • What do I want from life? What am I after?
  • What am I willing to sacrifice to achieve my goals?
People tend to be motivated by what they like, not by what makes sense. It is important to play to your "evil secrets"-those things that you might be embarrassed to say out loud but which really should be considered when evaluating career choices. To help you determine what motivates you, check the following "secret" job qualities you know in your heart you need to be happy:
  • Status
  • High Salary
  • Pension and other security benefits
  • Aesthetically pleasing physical working conditions
  • Being recognized and praised for good performance
  • Opportunity for self-development and improvement
  • Opportunity for advancement
  • Getting along with co-workers
  • Opportunity to do interesting work
  • Chance to turn out quality work
  • Ability to participate in the organization's decision making process
  • Close supervision and feedback
  • Responsibility over your work and that of others
  • To belong to a known and respected organization
  • To have an influence on others
  • To work for a cause/be of service
  • Ability to integrate other parts of life
  • To create something new Sabbaticals to pursue activities outside of work

Values are those intangible principles and standards that bring meaning to your work and motivate your involvement and commitment. You need to ask yourself what your values are and which hold the most meaning and importance to you. People tend to feel most comfortable when surrounded by others who hold similar values and in situations where their values are appreciated. The following exercise will help you further identify career/work values and factors crucial to your job satisfaction.

Rate the importance of each item

A=Very Important B= Important C=Not Important
  • Achievement
  • Advancement
  • Aesthetics
  • Affiliation
  • Altruism
  • Authority & Power
  • Autonomy
  • Being Needed
  • Boss You Respect
  • Challenge
  • Change
  • Closure
  • Commitment to Goal(s)
  • Competition
  • Complexity
  • Control
  • Courage
  • Creativity
  • Direct Impact
  • Discovering New Things
  • Diversity
  • Economic Return
  • Effectiveness
  • Ethics
  • Excellence
  • Excitement & Adventure Fairness
  • Flexibility
  • Focus
  • Harmony
  • High Profile
  • High Risk/High Reward
  • Holistic Approach
  • Improving the World
  • Independence
  • Individuality
  • Influencing People
  • Innovation
  • Integrity
  • Intellectual Stimulation
  • Interesting Work
  • Interpersonal Relationships
  • Job Security
  • Justice
  • Leadership of Others
  • Lifestyle Integration
  • Mentoring
  • Morality
  • Originality
  • Personal Growth
  • Pleasant Surroundings
  • Pleasure & Fun
  • Pressure & Fast Pace
  • Prestige
  • Profit/Gain
  • Public or Client Contact
  • Recognition
  • Respect
  • Responsibility
  • Results of Work Seen
  • Reward
  • Salary
  • Security
  • Self-Development Self Expression Service Simplicity
  • Social Relevance Specialization
  • Stability
  • Status
  • Structured Environment
  • Supervision
  • Supervision of Others
  • Training
  • Traveling
  • Variety
  • Working Alone
  • Working on Teams
  • Other
Review the values you ranked "A" and order these from 1 to 10 in order of importance to you. Keep in mind that like motives, values may shift as you mature and grow, but most guide your choices throughout a lifetime.

published February 14, 2013

By Author - LawCrossing
( 123 votes, average: 4 out of 5)
What do you think about this article? Rate it using the stars above and let us know what you think in the comments below.