Lawyer, know thy personality type (it helps)

Jessica Markham

Jessica Markham

The longer I practice law the more I realize that being a good lawyer requires a certain level of self-awareness.  Knowing yourself better, and understanding what you do and why you do it, helps you to be a better lawyer and can have the benefit of improving your interactions with your clients, opposing counsel and coworkers.

To that end, I recently had attorney William Stavros of Aletheia Consulting come to work with the attorneys at my office for a full day, teaching us about the Enneagram personality typing system. The day involved learning about this personality typing system and doing a combination of self-reflection and group discussion to attempt to type ourselves. We did group exercises that involved discussing how our personality shows itself at work, and how we felt about the strengths and weaknesses of our personality type. As we sat and discussed the “basic fears“ and “basic desires“ of our personality type, we learned so much about each other, how we work and our general outlook on life. Having a deeper understanding of how we each view the world has informed all our subsequent interactions. We can now have a greater understanding of where each person is coming from. I have found that it is reducing misunderstandings in the office. Some of us are more cerebral, some more impulsive; some more emotional, some less so. We are soon going to have a training on typing and interacting with various personality types of clients and opposing counsel, which I expect will be a revelation.

In law school we learn how to think like a lawyer and apply the law. We don’t learn how to bring our best selves to the conference room or courtroom. We don’t learn our own personal strengths and weaknesses. Doing some self-work in these areas can help us be better lawyers, better coworkers and, let’s face it, maybe even better people.

Jessica Markham is the owner of Markham Law Firm, a family law firm in Bethesda.

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