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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey guys,

Any law students or lawyers here? I'm INFP (INXX for sure, with F three out of four tests, 50-60% P over J).

Anyhow, been considering different careers and right now it's law. Any law students here? How is it for you? Is there room for creativity and problem solving? Is it too much memorization? Do you have to be overconfident and speak up in class all the time? How does it compare with science...etc etc

Thanks! Much appreciate your help.
 
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I have a love-hate relationship with law. Mom's a lawyer and so I've been exposed to the field for a long time and worked for her on occasion.

I went to do two years of law and history and didn't like it as I felt it wasn't stimulating and wasn't teaching me what I needed to know (it focused on the bare essentials of the law and wasn't possible to explain everything necessary in the time allotted). I still like law, but I'm now sure that it's something that isn't nearly as it's presented in the movies/TV with high powered lawsuits and torts bringing thousands of clients and dollars. With that said I may end up doing a paralegal course within the next couple of months as a means of gaining extra money and it's something I can actually do for money lol.

To answer what I can, there is creativity in figuring out which laws apply where and in how to use them to gain the desired result - I liken it to a detective's hunt. In terms of rules and procedures though it is rather rigid and expect deadlines to be very strict.

There can also be a very large variety of work if that's your thing, but I assume that's less likely the larger the firm as you'll probably need to specialise, which brings of course more money and more monotony.

Memorisation would come in terms of memorising the main cases but I assume that comes with time. From what I gather you eventually need to build a mind map of the important things that you regularly reference.

People skills would help but it depends on what law you do, for example being a criminal lawyer in a country with a jury system is going to be more people - heavy than writing contracts, doing wills, etc. You still need to deal with people but the amounts could likely vary.

I can't really compare to science as I haven't seen much of science since high school but I don't think it's always quite as rigid (2+2 is always 4, but you can use different case law most likely to argue on X or Y and a lot of it comes down to interpretation).

Expect lots and lots of reading, and writing (referencing things for example), long hours, high pay, but lots of stress. You also will need to be good with logic/reasoning and forming opinions. You'd be helped by perhaps doing social work (in terms of working in a legal aid clinic etc) and that may be something you like if you want to help others, but then again like everything it does have benefits and drawbacks. I don't know if that is detailed enough - if not I can reply again if you ask another question or ask my Mom for reference.

Best of luck either way :)
 

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I'm an INFP lawyer who just graduated law school last year (though this is my second career so I was a bit older than most of my classmates). For someone with an INFP-ish personality, law school can present some definite challenges, but it also has its rewarding aspects. I'll start with the rewarding parts, and then post the negatives in a separate post (so as to avoid one long mega post that gives everyone a headache).

Rewarding Aspects of Law School

1) Fascinating subject matter - I found the study of how our legal system developed and currently operates to be engrossing. Our system truly is unique and interesting.

2) Class dicsussion - Most law school profs not only require students to learn the various legal concepts and how to apply them, but also facilitate discussion on how students feel the law should be applied or even changed in light of contemporary trends and current events. You will get called on from time to time, so you do have to speak in class occasionally (maybe 2 or 3 times per semester in each class), which can be intimidating especially for more introverted types. But the class discussions are usually voluntary, so you can just listen if you want. I found that I would get so involved in the discussion that I actually wanted to comment.

3) LOTS of creativity and problem solving - as snowbell mentioned, there is quite a bit of problem solving involved with applying laws to specific situations. In law school, this occurs a lot in class discussions, when the professor posits a specific scenario and asks students how the law applies. And even more creativity is needed when you must apply the law in a way that accomplishes a desired result (the result your client wants). A lot of the practice-oriented classes in law school (e.g., legal writing) provide for these opportunities.

4) Intelligent classmates - For the most part, my fellow law students were extremely intelligent and competent people - and this made for great discussions on (of course) the law, but also on politics, and even religion and other such contemplative topics. I enjoyed being surrounded by other people who liked to think about and consider weighty, philosophical subjects.
 

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Now here are all the not-so-nice things about law school, at least as I experienced it.

The BAD

1) Uber-Competitive atmosphere - This was the absolute worst thing about law school - for me it was completely soul crushing. Law school classes are graded on a forced curve, which means you're graded not on some objective standard, but against your other classmates. Professors grade you based on how well you performed compared to everyone else in your class - a few will get As, a few will get Fs, and the majority will be scattered in between. And given the personality type of many law students (see #2), this makes for a very competitive atmosphere. Not much room for collaboration or "working together so we ALL can get As." This does make sense in training for legal careers since lawyers are tasked with getting the best result for their client, and legal clashes usually involve winners and losers. But for someone like me, who dislikes competition and prefers collaboration and compromise, this was a hard pill to swallow.

2) Classmates driven to "succeed" - So many people in law school today want to end up making big money at prestigious law firms. But unless you're at Harvard or Yale (or similarly ranked school), the only way to accomplish this is to be in the top 15-20% of your class (top 5-10% in less regarded schools). So there are a LOT of students who are focused solely on being the best in their class, on meeting all the right people, participating in all the right clubs, just so they can get that 160K/year job right out of law school. I did not get on well with these people.

3) It's frickin' HARD!!! Despite all that problem-solving and creativity, there is also quite a bit of memorization - mostly of legal concepts and the cases and/or statutes they come from. Lots and lots of reading. A fair amount of writing too. For most classes, your final grade is based on one 3 to 5 hour final exam, where the professor will give you 3 or 4 scenarios and you have to spot as many legal issues as you can and apply the appropriate legal concepts to these issues (citing the cases from which these concepts come) in the allotted time.

4) Blow to ego - I was usually at the top of my class throughout my education. But in law school EVERYBODY has always been at the top of their class, which means that some people are going to experience life in the middle, or even bottom, for the first time in their life. My first semester grades had me in the middle of the class and I literally cried when I saw them, especially since everyone around me kept emphasizing that my chances of success totally depend on my class rank. 2nd semester I had to drink an entire bottle of wine before I had the courage to check my grades (fortunately, I somehow managed to radically improve my grades, which also made me cry - so completely ridiculous, crying over grades, whether good or bad, is an overreaction).
 

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Some final thoughts about a legal career, and then I promise I'm done.

As far as legal careers go, I should first note that it has become quite difficult for law students to find jobs. The legal employment market has been contracting every since the recession started, more so than many other professions. Since law school is usually crazy expensive, this is no small consideration.

I don't think the "big law firm" career track to which so many law students aspire is a good fit for INFP personality types. These lawyers spend the first 5 years or so at a firm doing very tedious, unimaginative work for very long hours. Their chances for advancement (and more interesting work) depend quite a bit on their ability to bring in clients - they have to be out "networking" and schmoozing at all sorts of social gatherings so as to make as many of the right connections as possible. Plus, they often end up having to defend some fairly reprehensible behavior on the part of the businesses and corporations they represent.

However, working for a cause-related legal non-profit could actually be a really good fit for an INFP. You will likely get interesting work right away. You will be challenged intellectually with work that involves quite a bit of creativity and problem-solving. Plus, you're working for a cause you believe in and you are able to forge real relationships with clients. And very often this type of work doesn't involve going to court (or going to court very seldom), which is great for the introvert who dislikes public speaking. But the cons to this type of work are 1) low pay, and 2) frustration when you can't do as much for your cause as you'd like.

Finally, there's work for the government. I work as an attorney for a federal agency, which involves a lot of applying statutes and regulation to specific situations, and interpreting these laws and regulations when they are ambiguous. I find this interesting and challenging, and I like that I'm serving the public. The pay is better than at a non-profit (though this may not be the case with local or state government), but the pace is slow and it's hard to effect change, which can be frustrating. Other government possibilies include the criminal court system (District Attorney, Public Defender, etc.) - whose pros and cons are more similar to that of working for a non-profit.

Yikes! Sorry for writing a novel. Hope this was a bit helpful. Feel free to ask any questions.
 

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Law isn't flexible or creative enough for me, and it's also highly demanding. I could never see myself surviving in that profession.

That said, I've always told people I think the hardest job in the world must be a defense attorney. Not only because of the inconsistent pay, but also because it would be hell to have to stand up for someone you might possibly know is guilty of a horrible crime. I commend those people. Bravo.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Wow, so many wonderful replies, I thanked you guys for your great insight, encouragement, calls for caution, and care.

I used to not consider law at all but then my degree in psychology did not seem good enough to get any job and then even if I get masters, I will barely make a living and will be emotionally exhausted from the work of doing therapy (which can be wonderful and fulfilling but also burns you out badly). In any case, I have always had an interest in philosophy, like even when studying psychology I would think about why this and not that way of looking at things and why are we making these assumptions, and what does it mean to say something is more scientific and what does science mean, etc. But masters with philosophy would be even worse than psychology in terms of job market and I have to take a number of undergrad courses anyways just to even apply for that.

So I considered economics (because of interest in math and hearing that it involves intuitive ability which I do have plenty of) and then I considered law because of the intellectual stimulation and better financial security compared to other careers I mentioned.

So my only concern was if I could still be creative there because that's a big part of my identity. I hate having to do purely routine work. For a short time I used to do filing for a clinical trials study and it was absolute mind-numbing torture. I do like SOME routine and of course there is no job that is completely different every day and it would be awful actually if that was true because it can be stressful in its own way. But I do like variety, autonomy, creativity, financial security, good coworkers, intellectual stimulation and also the feeling that I'm making a difference.

Some personal issues in my life had made me change direction towards studying psychology (from math and sciences) and so that will always be a part of me, the will to do something to make people live better and more meaningful lives. But I'm also a sensitive and shy guy so I can not accomplish that well in some other ways. Like somebody could become a successful stock broker or businessman in the dog eat dog world out there and then make major contributions to charities but I don't see myself doing anything like that. In fact, and you might laugh, one of my concerns about whatever career path is the amount of public speaking I have to do.

Sorry, this is stream of consciousness talking, but the reality is that it's hard to find a career that is fulfilling in every way. So I prioritize, and know that two things are quite important, finances and also finding something I love so that no matter what happens all around me, stuff with family, the world, whatever, I would still have that motivation and love for my work and so I would stay focused and move forward.
 
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
bumping this to see if any other lawyer/law student
 

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I graduated in both civil law and tax law and I have been working as a tax and legal advisor and general knowledge provider in the administrative field for almost twenty years now.
I think its possible to be INFP and go a long way in this field. It is however, paramount that you keep looking for variation and change otherwise you will utterly die out there.
To my luck I work in very small practices so I get a lot of interpersonal contact with clients who are normal human beings with real human problems and emotions rather than big corporate head honchos.
 

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You should expect quite a lot of routine and mundane work as a lawyer (especially as a junior lawyer). You will be doing things like checking agreements, prospectuses, witness statements etc. to make sure they are correct and consistent down to the last capital letter and semicolon; reviewing cartons of contracts to check for unfavorable clauses and tabulating these into reports; taking minutes of meeting after meeting after meeting; making sure the 5 sets of documents the secretary prepared are all identical and properly paginated; etc.

Having said that, I found that by approaching every new assignment with the objective of understanding the purpose and structure of the overall project, the initial years can be stimulating (when everything was still new). It started to get boring after that, because each transaction was just another variation on the same theme.

As for autonomy, you won’t be getting much of that in your first few years as you’ll be at the mercy of your bosses, and anyway you will probably still be too inexperienced (read: useless) to really be able to demand such liberties. Suck it up for a few years and in the meantime, try to work towards finding and building up expertise in a niche that you enjoy and are good at. This will give you more leverage later on (whether it be moving to another firm, going in house, or starting your own practice, which would of course give you the most autonomy). Networking is also important (something that I have grudgingly come to admit). Just remember that it’ll get harder (though not impossible) to switch from one specialization to another after the first 2-4 years or so of practice (at least that’s what it’s like where I am).

Creativity – forget about it. The legal industry is about the least progressive one you can find. You can’t expect much else from an industry where developments are incremental and based on prior precedents. Plus, having to spot and manage risk all the time tends to make lawyers quite an unadventurous bunch. You might be able to apply a bit of creativity if you end up managing your own firm or team, though it will take you awhile to get there.

If you like helping individual people out, running your own practice is probably the way to go in the long run. Big firms don’t tend to service individual clients (other than high net worth ones), and the work tends to be much more corporate/commercial-related. Same for in house counsel positions (except maybe nonprofits/government? But I don’t have much experience in that area so can’t really comment. I think someone else has already said something about this type of work earlier in the thread.)

Do a couple of internships at different types of law firms if you can, to get a flavor of the possibilities.
 
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