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.


John Lande

John Lande is the Isidor Loeb Professor Emeritus at the University of Missouri School of Law and former director of its LLM Program in Dispute Resolution.  He received his J.D. from Hastings College of Law and Ph.D in sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  He began mediating professionally in 1982 in California.… MORE

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