Not sure where this question goes but - Shy Lawyers?

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melanieB
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Not sure where this question goes but - Shy Lawyers?

Postby melanieB » Tue Apr 20, 2010 5:16 pm

I have my heart set on being a public advocate and have always wanted to choose a career that would best allow me to defend the rights of others. Right now I am considering CUNY Law school because it just seems to fit me perfectly in terms of what the school offers, especially in terms of clinics. Long story short, the PROBLEM is that I'm beyond shy, been that way since I can remember, tried everything to get rid of it but unfortunately it hinders me in certain areas - especially public speaking - which has always been my weakness. I cringe at the thought and I've tried to overcome it but I just can't seem to get over it. However, I question how I could possibly be a good lawyer when I can't think on the spot when I am speaking in front of others? (How could I possibly do well in law school?) Can someone give me suggestions? Does anyone else have this issue/had this issue and what can I do before law school to help me overcome this fear/personality flaw. I also would love to expand my speaking vocabulary - any good book suggestions would be great.
Last edited by melanieB on Tue Apr 20, 2010 5:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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pu_golf88
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Re: Not sure where this question goes but - Shy Lawyers?

Postby pu_golf88 » Tue Apr 20, 2010 5:22 pm

Talk to girls at bars.

lawfuture10
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Re: Not sure where this question goes but - Shy Lawyers?

Postby lawfuture10 » Tue Apr 20, 2010 5:24 pm

I think Melanie is a girl.

So, talk to guys at bars?

melanieB
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Re: Not sure where this question goes but - Shy Lawyers?

Postby melanieB » Tue Apr 20, 2010 5:25 pm

oh come on! Plus, I don't go to bars. :shock: :lol:

Leeroy Jenkins
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Re: Not sure where this question goes but - Shy Lawyers?

Postby Leeroy Jenkins » Tue Apr 20, 2010 5:28 pm

melanieB wrote:oh come on! Plus, I don't go to bars. :shock: :lol:

public speaking isn't a pillar of lawyering. you probably will need to be able to speak intelligently on the spot, and practice makes perfect.

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jks289
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Re: Not sure where this question goes but - Shy Lawyers?

Postby jks289 » Tue Apr 20, 2010 5:28 pm

melanieB wrote:I don't go to bars. :shock: :lol:


Join Toastmasters or other public speaking groups. Practice is how you get comfortable. Law school is going to train you how to be a lawyer, including speaking if you take advantage of what is offered. Join moot court, join the Law School musical, force yourself to try things that seem awful. If at the end of school you still HATE public speaking, then there are plenty of paths in the law that don't involve being a courtroom. Good luck.

Kretzy
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Re: Not sure where this question goes but - Shy Lawyers?

Postby Kretzy » Tue Apr 20, 2010 5:33 pm

So, I'm a former debater and public speaking coach. Here are some initial suggestions.

First, don't judge your merits as a speaker based on how well others are speaking, work on making small increases in your own comfort level in front of groups. Are you particularly shy around just large groups, or does this also affect you when around smaller groups of people (say, 4-6, or 8-12 people)? I'd work on being more vocal in groups of people whom you already know.

Second, try and take an entry-level public speaking class. It will be incredibly intimidating, but is really the only way (apart from consistent, private practicing) where you could get both practice and practical feedback from a real instructor. In NYC, where I'm assuming you are located, there are a multitude of opportunities, particularly in the CUNY system. Heck, you may be able to get joint credit while you are in law school, though I'd recommend you start fairly soon. If you have a friend who is slightly more gregarious, ask them to take the class with you! If you're really willing to put yourself out there, join Toastmasters, which will give a ton of hands-on practice.

Books are vastly overrated when it comes to public speaking, because its theory doesn't help when you aren't engaging in practice. For expanding your vocabulary, and being more well-versed in current events (something that generally helps engage in public speaking), I'd subscribe to The Economist or a similar weekly periodical that does cogent reporting on a number of subjects. Highlight words you don't fully know (which is a great habit to get into, and I still keep a highlighter or pen with me for new words) and look them up often.

I hope that helps a little bit!

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BigA
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Re: Not sure where this question goes but - Shy Lawyers?

Postby BigA » Tue Apr 20, 2010 5:34 pm

I'm thinking it might hinder you when it comes to networking and being interviewed. I only say this because I worry about myself. I don't have the most outgoing personality socially.

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autarkh
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Re: Not sure where this question goes but - Shy Lawyers?

Postby autarkh » Tue Apr 20, 2010 5:36 pm

Try improv comedy.

Not only will that help with thinking on your feet -- but the whole point is to embarrass yourself in front of other people.

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dlac
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Re: Not sure where this question goes but - Shy Lawyers?

Postby dlac » Tue Apr 20, 2010 5:39 pm

I know how you feel about the "think on your feet" problem. While I have no problem standing in front of large crowds and flapping my gums, I have a similar fear of sounding like an idiot. This fear is compounded by the fact that we'll be forced to do so in front of certifiable geniuses and intellectuals in law school.

This is a valid and very real fear of a number of students. I guess the first thing to remember is that you're not alone. Very few people come out of undergrad immediately with the skills necessary for trial advocacy. Even a lot of mock trial team members i've met are not particularly quick on their feet.

If you haven't started already, look into some local public speaking orgs (i.e. Toastmasters) or even speechwriting courses at a local JC. That'll probably give you a good basis for the advocacy skills you will be learning in law school. I joined toastmasters at work and it has helped a bit with formulating arguments on the fly. It's easier to mess up in front of middle-aged people whose oratory skills are on par or even weaker than your own. I wouldn't recommend relying on books as the sole source of practice, since that's kind of like learning to swim by reading about it online.

edit for ninja response posters above: +111111111one

OnWisconsin
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Re: Not sure where this question goes but - Shy Lawyers?

Postby OnWisconsin » Tue Apr 20, 2010 5:51 pm

Just go into IP.

Nerds helping nerds.

Social skills not a requirement, in fact they are frowned upon and distrusted.

Leeroy Jenkins
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Re: Not sure where this question goes but - Shy Lawyers?

Postby Leeroy Jenkins » Tue Apr 20, 2010 6:01 pm

OnWisconsin wrote:Just go into IP.

Nerds helping nerds.

Social skills not a requirement, in fact they are frowned upon and distrusted.

Oh, your cool

OnWisconsin
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Re: Not sure where this question goes but - Shy Lawyers?

Postby OnWisconsin » Tue Apr 20, 2010 6:51 pm

Leeroy Jenkins wrote:
OnWisconsin wrote:Just go into IP.

Nerds helping nerds.

Social skills not a requirement, in fact they are frowned upon and distrusted.

Oh, your cool


Leeroy I'm sure with your seeming omnipresence on these forums that you must be a giant of face-to-face interpersonal contact yourself.

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traehekat
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Re: Not sure where this question goes but - Shy Lawyers?

Postby traehekat » Tue Apr 20, 2010 6:53 pm

Leeroy Jenkins wrote:
melanieB wrote:oh come on! Plus, I don't go to bars. :shock: :lol:

public speaking isn't a pillar of lawyering.


However, going to bars is.

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jack duluoz
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Re: Not sure where this question goes but - Shy Lawyers?

Postby jack duluoz » Tue Apr 20, 2010 6:58 pm

OnWisconsin wrote:
Leeroy Jenkins wrote:
OnWisconsin wrote:Just go into IP.

Nerds helping nerds.

Social skills not a requirement, in fact they are frowned upon and distrusted.

Oh, your cool


Leeroy I'm sure with your seeming omnipresence on these forums that you must be a giant of face-to-face interpersonal contact yourself.


LOL. pwned

+ another, for not going at the obvious error in his comment.

Leeroy Jenkins
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Re: Not sure where this question goes but - Shy Lawyers?

Postby Leeroy Jenkins » Tue Apr 20, 2010 7:06 pm

OnWisconsin wrote:Leeroy I'm sure with your seeming omnipresence on these forums that you must be a giant of face-to-face interpersonal contact yourself.

my face is terrifying to look upon

jack duluoz wrote:+ another, for not going at the obvious error in his comment.

you should ask yourself why its obvious, unless that is too taxing of a mental exercise for you

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Matthies
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Re: Not sure where this question goes but - Shy Lawyers?

Postby Matthies » Tue Apr 20, 2010 7:08 pm

Need to get over this, and simply wishing it away won't work. Take the advice of the others in this thread, toastmasters, ect. Overcoming being shy is something that can be done WITH WORK. And you need to do it if you want to make it past the first few years of law practice. The business of law is more like sales than it is an office job. The people with the best people skills make partner because they bring in business, the best lawyers make of counsel cause they don't. Law is more like selling used cars than it is accounting, you can't just hide in your office and expect to last long.

All that being said, you don't have to be a social butterfly either. personally I dislike 99% of the people I meet, and I would much rather stay in my cave alone than go out with friends for any social occasion. I'm pretty much a loner, but I know when to turn it on when I need to now. I have a bunch of lawyers and judges as personal friends all made while in law school by talking to complete strangers and going to meetings by myself. I HATED every second of it, but the ends results are worth an hour of sweating and thinking I'm going to throw up.

And the more you do it, the easier it gets. It pains me to go to the social events I do, but I make myself, and because I do its made my life, job wise, much easier. When it all gets too much I just go back into the cave and be by myself where I am happiest. Learn to be an actor, act less shy even if you aren't, everyone will think you are, and before you know it, with plenty of regular practice you will be.

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vanwinkle
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Re: Not sure where this question goes but - Shy Lawyers?

Postby vanwinkle » Tue Apr 20, 2010 7:12 pm

jks289 wrote:Join Toastmasters or other public speaking groups. Practice is how you get comfortable. Law school is going to train you how to be a lawyer, including speaking if you take advantage of what is offered. Join moot court, join the Law School musical, force yourself to try things that seem awful. If at the end of school you still HATE public speaking, then there are plenty of paths in the law that don't involve being a courtroom. Good luck.

This is excellent advice. You can also do this before you start law school, since there are debate teams and Toastmasters chapters and such at many undergrads as well.

However, even if you wait until law school there's still time to overcome it. I'm not great at public speaking but I'm getting over it by just making myself do it. I've done two moot court competitions this year (1L LRW argument, and an extramural competition) and I'll keep doing more next year. The trick is that the more you do it the more comfortable with it you get, so getting started is the hardest part. That first time you speak will be terrifying, but you'll live, and then knowing you'll live no matter what happens, you can speak again, and again, and you learn more each time you do it.

Good luck, OP. You can do it.

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dlac
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Re: Not sure where this question goes but - Shy Lawyers?

Postby dlac » Tue Apr 20, 2010 7:14 pm

jack duluoz wrote:
OnWisconsin wrote:
Leeroy Jenkins wrote:
OnWisconsin wrote:Just go into IP.

Nerds helping nerds.

Social skills not a requirement, in fact they are frowned upon and distrusted.

Oh, your cool


Leeroy I'm sure with your seeming omnipresence on these forums that you must be a giant of face-to-face interpersonal contact yourself.


LOL. pwned

+ another, for not going at the obvious error in his comment.


someone's never heard of a meme...

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jack duluoz
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Re: Not sure where this question goes but - Shy Lawyers?

Postby jack duluoz » Tue Apr 20, 2010 7:29 pm

why do u think i gave onwisconsin dap for not saying anything? keep it movin', guys.

Lucidity
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Re: Not sure where this question goes but - Shy Lawyers?

Postby Lucidity » Tue Apr 20, 2010 7:29 pm

I consider myself an above average public speaker, but i certainly did not start out that way. Back in high school there were numerous moments during class presentations where i was frozen solid because of stage fright. But, over time i really do think you can overcome this deficiency with practice. The key word is practice.

Here's the thing, there ARE people who can be spontaneous on the spot speakers, who can converse and adapt with the flow of the conversation and come up with intelligent and witty responses as a conversation progresses. Such gifted people are rare, and i am certainly not one of them. However, you can make up for this lack of spontaneous wit by visualization. For example, if you know you are about to enter into a conversation about a certain topic, contemplate on what side of an argument you take, and what side of an argument the other party takes. Then, visualize in your head how the discussion might progress and try as best you can to consider every argument, every point and counterpoint, and decide before hand how you might respond accordingly. Approach every interactive speaking engagement like you would a debate.

An analogy that was described to me was this. Imagine you are in a duel with another party, using those 17th century muskets that take forever to reload. Your opponent is an expert at handling his riffle, and reloads 5x faster than you. Since the enemy reloads faster than you, you need to mitigate this advantage, say perhaps by having numerous preloaded rifles ready. The same applies in public speaking. Where others are successful because they can be spontaneous, you can be successful if you map out the possibilities of an issue before hand, and have a response ready for every possible contingency.

Renzo
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Re: Not sure where this question goes but - Shy Lawyers?

Postby Renzo » Tue Apr 20, 2010 7:33 pm

Shyness can be overcome. You just need to make a conscious effort at it, and go by degrees. Start with approaching strangers at coffee shops, etc. Work your way up to public speaking engagements.

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T14_Scholly
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Re: Not sure where this question goes but - Shy Lawyers?

Postby T14_Scholly » Tue Apr 20, 2010 7:36 pm

melanieB wrote:I have my heart set on being a public advocate and have always wanted to choose a career that would best allow me to defend the rights of others. Right now I am considering CUNY Law school because it just seems to fit me perfectly in terms of what the school offers, especially in terms of clinics. Long story short, the PROBLEM is that I'm beyond shy, been that way since I can remember, tried everything to get rid of it but unfortunately it hinders me in certain areas - especially public speaking - which has always been my weakness. I cringe at the thought and I've tried to overcome it but I just can't seem to get over it. However, I question how I could possibly be a good lawyer when I can't think on the spot when I am speaking in front of others? (How could I possibly do well in law school?) Can someone give me suggestions? Does anyone else have this issue/had this issue and what can I do before law school to help me overcome this fear/personality flaw. I also would love to expand my speaking vocabulary - any good book suggestions would be great.


Personality flaw?

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vanwinkle
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Re: Not sure where this question goes but - Shy Lawyers?

Postby vanwinkle » Tue Apr 20, 2010 7:36 pm

Renzo wrote:Shyness can be overcome. You just need to make a conscious effort at it, and go by degrees. Start with approaching strangers at coffee shops, etc. Work your way up to public speaking engagements.

This is kind of funny, since I'm better now at public speaking than I am at speaking to strangers at coffee shops.

Renzo
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Re: Not sure where this question goes but - Shy Lawyers?

Postby Renzo » Tue Apr 20, 2010 7:40 pm

vanwinkle wrote:
Renzo wrote:Shyness can be overcome. You just need to make a conscious effort at it, and go by degrees. Start with approaching strangers at coffee shops, etc. Work your way up to public speaking engagements.

This is kind of funny, since I'm better now at public speaking than I am at speaking to strangers at coffee shops.

That actually sort of makes sense. You can usually be pretty sure that a crowd will at least be polite and listen, but there's always the possibility a stranger will be a jerk.




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