July 2016 Bar Bulletin
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July 2016 Bar Bulletin

The Quirky Lawyer:
Understanding the Genius of Personality Type

(Second of four parts)

By Stacey L. Romberg


This article is the second of four installments designed to provide insight into how understanding the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® enables attorneys to become more effective in managing their career, relating to clients, and overseeing their offices.

In my last article, I provided an overview of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) and explored how being an introvert or an extrovert impacts how an attorney approaches career choices and time management. Introversion versus extroversion is, by far, the most well-known MBTI® dichotomy. The remaining three MBTI® dichotomies are much less well known, but every bit as important.

This second article will provide an overview of the three lesser-known personality indicators, and explain how an attorney’s preference for one or the other can significantly impact that attorney’s legal practice.

Sensing vs. Intuition:
How Does This Type Indicator Influence How Lawyers Take in Information?

According to Jessica Butts, author of Live Your Life from the Front Seat, “Sensors validate information via their five senses. Information is valid if they can touch it, taste it, hear it, smell it or see it. Sensors are very literal, concrete and factual.... Sensors make up 75% of the world’s population.”1

To the contrary, “Intuitive types take in information via their ‘sixth’ sense. Intuitive types have an energetic vibe, gut feeling, a hunch or a speculation about someone or something. Intuitive types are more figurative than literal [and] prefer the big picture.”2

At first glance, one might think that a sensor would be more successful practicing law than an intuitive type. Law is a profession that highly values the “literal, concrete and factual.” An intuitive type, however, should not shy away from becoming a lawyer, as they can bring much to the table as well.

For example, suppose two probate lawyers team up to prepare an estate accounting and a brief responding to a motion that the personal representative should be removed for cause? One lawyer, Sally Sensor, is best suited for work involving facts and detail. Preparing the estate accounting would be a perfect task for Sally, who would enjoy the math and meticulous detail this project requires.

The second lawyer, Ira Intuitive, would likely be the one who writes the accompanying brief. Ira, seeing the big picture of how this brief could be highly persuasive, might have a “gut instinct” as to which arguments the judge may be more sympathetic toward and what tone might be most advantageous. After Ira drafts the brief, he may ask Sally to check it to ensure that the formatting and citations are correct.

Both the sensing and the intuitive types bring different skills to the project and by teaming together are able to submit a high-quality product for the court’s consideration. If a lawyer understands his sensing/intuitive preference, that lawyer will be better able to select tasks, and even make overall career choices, that are consistent with that preference. Further, that lawyer will know his weaknesses and be able to make more knowledgeable choices about working partners who offer a different, but also needed, skill set.

Thinking vs. Feeling:
How Does This Type Indicator Impact How a Lawyer Processes Information and Makes Decisions?

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