Introversion, the Legal Profession, and Dispute Resolution

Do you often feel introverted, generally preferring to be in a small group of trusted friends than in a large gathering, for example?

It turns out that there are a lot of people who feel that way.

Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, cites studies indicating that a third to a half of the American population is introverted.

Perhaps surprisingly, even larger proportions of law students and lawyers may be introverted.  I suspect that an even larger proportion of law professors feel that way, with an even higher proportion faculty teaching dispute resolution being introverted.  And lots of mediators.

Hell, you may feel introverted much of the time.  Me too.

A Google search for “introversion” yields more than 136 million hits.  There are more than 6,000 publications with references to introversion in the American Psychological Association PsychInfo database.  Westlaw’s Law Reviews and Journals database has more than 1,000 articles referring to introversion, many of which are in bar journals, offering advice for lawyers to overcome introverted tendencies.

I just uploaded an overgrown blog post, Introversion, the Legal Profession, and Dispute Resolution, which is part of my What I’m Reading series.  It discusses Ms. Cain’s book as well as an unlikely combination of three others:

  • The Introverted Lawyer: A Seven-Step Journey Toward Authentically Empowered Advocacy by Brooklyn Law Professor Heidi K. Brown
  • Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want to Come: One Introvert’s Year of Saying Yes by Jessica Pan
  • Playing with Myself by Randy Rainbow

These books illustrate how introversion is a real thing.  It’s just not the same thing for everyone.  There are many different combinations of causes and consequences of people’s introverted feelings, sensitivities, reactions, preferences, and behaviors.

There is a social bias favoring extroversion in Western societies.  As a result, introverted people often feel flawed and ashamed because they aren’t comfortable acting more outgoing.

Academics and practitioners are likely to encounter a lot of students, clients, colleagues, supervisors, counterparts, loved ones, and lots of other people grappling with challenges of introversion.

The books offer interesting and entertaining lessons for introverted people and anyone dealing with them.

Take a look.

Update:  I got a lot of responses to this piece, which prompted me to write a follow-up post, Coming Out as Introverted.

4 thoughts on “Introversion, the Legal Profession, and Dispute Resolution”

  1. For more on lawyers’ introversion, see the new article, Chloe Sovinee-Dyroff, Introverted Lawyers: Agents of Change in the Legal Profession, 36 Geo. J. Legal Ethics 111 (2023).

  2. Thanks for sharing this, John.

    In my work, I am often asked questions on how to communicate with an introvert, with a tone suggesting that there was something wrong with the introvert instead of just acknowledging that there are personality and stylistic differences.

    I produced two videos recently on my YouTube channel that try to offer some advice to folks who have introverts in their life. They may be of interest to you and others here!


    1. What’s your simian niece or nephew’s name, Jim?

      One of the things I learned as I worked on this post is that there are a lot of people who have a public face who feel very introverted. They can be gregarious in certain settings, but generally feel introverted. I didn’t recognize how introverted I felt until I was writing this. I bet a lot of folks in our community feel the same way.

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