Do I want to be a Litigator?

Do I want to be a litigator? I was asked this question on Friday by my boss at my internship. She is a fantastic attorney, with a family life and is from a similar background as me (same congressional district, grew up on a farm in rural VA). She went to a small liberal arts college, and went to a great law school. Not a top 15, not a major player with BigLaw, but a great law school nonetheless. I honestly didn’t know how to answer her question. I have not had a lot of opportunities to really figure it all out. I know where I don’t want to work. I don’t want to work in BigLaw, and I don’t want to work for the Federal Government. I do want to work in Environmental Law, and I don’t want to do Policy and having to be an ass-kisser and push policy in DC. I want to work where I am currently interning, or someplace similar to it. And I do ideally want to stay in Virginia, at least for the next five years. I don’t really have a choice in that matter, anyway.

But I do not have experience, or a lot of it anyway, of speaking in public. I used to perform in public, when I still sang, but that isn’t the same thing. I used to act, but I really don’t find that to be the same either. You are given a script then, and when you are practicing law you have to be quick with words or you lose the attention of the jury, judges, whomever you are speaking to. I think those qualities are important.

There’s very little difference in the way great men and great women lawyers conduct themselves in the courtroom, U.S. District Judge Norma L. Shapiro told a group of about 500 women at the ABA’s Women in Law Leadership Academy in Philadelphia Thursday afternoon.

But there are some things women could do better, the three judges on the panel agreed.

Women in general lack the confidence that men seem to have in the courtroom,” said Shapiro, who sits on the federal court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

And that’s a problem. If the attorney doesn’t have confidence in herself, neither will the judge or jury, she said. The trick is to exude confidence — something Shapiro and the other panelists agreed was difficult to do without first some successes under their belt.

So what to do if a lawyer is new to the courtroom and doesn’t have the confidence in her skills?

You pretend. You fake it,” Shapiro said, adding that being prepared helps.”

Taken from:
Title: Judges Provide Tips for Female Litigators
Author: Gina Passarella
Publication: The Legal Intelligencer
Publisher: ALM Media, Inc.
Date: May 4, 2010
Copyright © 2010, ALM Properties, Inc

I’ve always been able to “fake it til I make it“. I have always done that pretty well. But what we are talking about here is still faking some kind of confidance. I was born with a pretty decent attitude about myself, but not a great ability in hiding my fears. I have a circulatory issue that makes my voice shake and limbs tremble, a lot. I have a splotchy skin on my chest and neck problem that shows up pretty well when I have a problem with someone, whether when I am angry/upset/hurt. Obviously, in a court room I would be covered up pretty well, but it isn’t like I can go to court in a turtleneck.

Over the next several months, a year, really, while I prepare for taking the LSAT after graduating… I will eventually need to figure out what I want to do. And maybe it will be me as a “litigatrix“.

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3 thoughts on “Do I want to be a Litigator?

  1. That's certainly a lot to think about! It's good that you know what you don't want to do. It's really neat that you know someone who is a litigator, so you can seek advice and see up close what her job entails.

    Thanks so much for your comment on my blog, and for following it! I really appreciate your kindness. 🙂

  2. I'm the girl in law school who never wants to go to court… If that makes any sense. But I'm also in the MPP program so hopefully I will be able to duck that! I wish I had some words of wisdom, but I don't other than to say good for you for thinking ahead! I always feel like the doors you least expect to see open do, and you go from there. xx

  3. It is good to start thinking about, but you'll definitely begin to gain the skills you need over time. If you decide to be a litigator, you'll get the proper practice…and if not, then maybe you'll sigh in relief and go on to be great at another area of law!

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