Personality, the Crackerjacks prize

Assessment tools are everywhere in the world of law school professional development. Professors are using them, career offices are using them and so are clinical programs. Everyone wants to help law students make well informed career choices so they can be fulfilled lawyers who are not only satisfied but happy with their career decisions.

As a career development professional team, we are always thinking of ways we can introduce self-assessment tools in a way that appeals to our students, and doesn’t sound condescending or woo-woo. Over the past few years we’ve introduced assessments that explored the 26 factors of good lawyering and other skills; interests; core values; and personality. The feedback we received from students who participated in the assessment workshops showed that the personality assessments were far and away the most popular and compelling. Many mentioned the assessments were the most useful non law exercises they engaged in during in in first year of law school.

So what’s so earth-shattering about personality? We all have one, right? If anything, we’re probably more aware of our own personality traits than we are of our core values. Personality can be easier to talk about than skills and interests. So why are people so excited about this discussion?

Because it’s PRACTICAL information that helps people relate better to the people around them. Realizing that we all have different preferred ways of taking in, processing, and acting on information takes the sting out of a lot of our differences. Knowing that your study group partner is a “P” (in MBTI-speak) can help you keep calm when it’s the week before the exam and she has yet to share an outline with you. She’s not taking advantage of you; she probably hasn’t started the process yet herself. Or you may have sensed that your roommate is introverted, but realizing that alone time is essential for him to be able to recharge at the end of a stressful day can keep you from being offended when he walks in and closes his door on your each afternoon. We all have our different ways of dealing with the world. Sometimes a tool like the MBTI personality assessment can feel like a welcome decoder key when we enter a new situation: law school, a new job, a new relationship.