You’re Too Nice To Be a Lawyer!Posted: July 11, 2011
I read a post on Careared that I thought was interesting. It’s on the “What do you do?” question that people tend to ask upon meeting you, as if the answer to this question allows the questioner to fit you into a certain box or category, will give them some insight into the type of person you are, or will allow them to determine if you can help them in some way.
I can definitely relate to this post. I can’t tell you the number of times I have told people I’m a lawyer, only to hear, “Oh you must be really argumentative”, or “You’re too nice to be a lawyer!” in response. It used to be bother me tremendously, but I think I’ve gotten over it.
Although people in all professions probably get certain stereotypical reactions to their “What do you do?” answer, people generally seem to have very strong opinions and ideas about what lawyers do and they make automatic assumptions about the personality of all lawyers. Usually these assumptions and opinions about lawyers are negative, but to me this only shows how narrow minded those people must be. It doesn’t say anything about me or who I am.
I guess all we can do is be ourselves, and show people that no matter what, we are not just what we do. Every person is so incredibly complex and jobs are only one aspect of people’s lives. For some people, their identities and egos become intertwined with their careers, but this is an social and cultural construct that doesn’t exist in other cultures.
Once in a while, you might meet a lawyer (or doctor, or dentist, or engineer) that doesn’t match your assumptions. Nice lawyers do exist, and so do mean nurses and teachers. I’ve noticed that nice lawyers generally don’t succeed in certain legal environments, however. This may also feed certain negative assumptions and stereotypes.
One of my favorite things is to surprise people and to challenge their beliefs. I love it when I don’t simply fit within certain boundaries or categories that people create upon meeting me. If I am able to challenge someone’s expectations in a meaningful way or help them learn something new or see things in a new light, it is an extremely satisfying feeling.
What are some reactions you’ve gotten to the “What do you do?” question?