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What Does It Take To Become A Successful Lawyer?

A lawyer’s job is indeed about exciting courtroom dramas, intense negotiations and nail-biting arguments. And yes, being able to recite the Constitution in your sleep is an essential quality of a good lawyer. 

Lots of people want to be lawyers. TV shows like Suits make it look easy – who wouldn’t want to be a real-life Harvey Specter, Jessica Pearson or Mike Ross?

But a career in law isn’t just about glamour and big bucks. Like every profession, you need to have what it takes. 

Before enrolling in law school, consider how well your personality traits align with a career as a lawyer. The OCEAN model of personality provides a comprehensive analysis of your personality and will help you decide if you are truly suitable for the legal profession. While these traits are considered to be static, it is also important to understand, they can evolve based on life experiences and conscious efforts. Let's explore the traits of a successful lawyer and see if they align with your goals and character.

Traits Of A Successful Lawyer

Certain personality traits of a lawyer stand out as particularly defining for lawyers. Drawing from the OCEAN model, which delves into the core dimensions of human personality, we find that lawyers often score distinctively in specific attributes. 

These traits not only shape their professional approach but also influence their interactions, decisions, and overall success. Let's delve deeper into each of these attributes and understand how they mould a successful lawyer.


Embarking on a career in law is both challenging and rewarding. With the right guidance, you can navigate the complexities of the legal world with confidence. In the legal world, a slightly higher degree of openness is considered a significant asset. If you're passionate about law, it's essential to harness your curiosity and keep an open mind. 

By seeking insights beyond textbooks and embracing diverse perspectives, you'll have the successful lawyer qualities to tackle unique cases and interpret new laws. Remember, the difference between a good lawyer and a great one often lies in their approach and mindset. Stay curious, question the status quo, and always be ready to learn.


The legal world is full of intricate details. Your capability as a lawyer will be defined by how you scrutinise every piece of information, whether it's contracts or testimonies in court. But conscientiousness is more than just being thorough, it's about ensuring every detail is in place, and every task is executed flawlessly. Yet, it's also about self-discipline and the capacity to adhere to plans. 

While a high level of conscientiousness means you can resist distractions and strategize effectively, it may also mean dealing with spontaneity or unforeseen changes. As you further learn about the characteristics of a good lawyer, you will realise that a balanced conscientiousness approach - being both methodical and adaptable - is key to navigating the challenges.


While you might think lawyers are all about the excitement of the courtroom, a lot of their work is about connecting with people, making deals, and talking to clients. Just because they seem confident in court doesn't mean they're always extroverted. In fact, being a lawyer means you need a mix of being outgoing and being introverted. 

Being extroverted isn't just about being sociable. It's about how you feel energised, whether it's from hanging out with people or trying new things. But being more reserved helps you dive deep into cases and think them through.

As you pursue a career in law, understand that the trait of a successful lawyer is to strike a balance between these two traits, or in other words, have a medium level of extraversion.


Law is more than just knowing the rules; it's about connecting with people. As you consider a career in law, remember that while lawyers are trained to focus on facts, the truly effective ones always see the human story behind every case. This is an important personality trait of a lawyer. But here's something to note: lawyers often display a slightly lower level of agreeableness.

This doesn't mean they're not understanding or empathetic. It just means they don't always aim to please everyone. For you, as an aspiring lawyer, it's essential to find that balance. You'll need to empathise and find common ground when possible, but also be ready to stand your ground when justice demands it. 


So far, we’ve talked about must-have personality traits of a successful lawyer, but now it's time to address a must-not-have trait. Neuroticism can be detrimental to a lawyer’s job because you can’t afford to be easily overwhelmed by stress. High neuroticism could lead to impulsiveness, making it difficult to handle the intricacies of legal matters. It is important to ensure that your emotions don’t cloud your judgement or affect professional conduct.

In this profession, you will deal with diverse clients, each with unique concerns and expectations. It’s imperative to maintain a calm demeanour, even if your clients are difficult or demanding. Getting angry or frustrated is not a trait of a successful lawyer. It can harm the attorney-client relationship and obstruct the ability to effectively represent clients’ interests.

Losing a case can also be disheartening, but lawyers must not let disappointment lead to depression or excessive frustration. The courtroom is a place of decorum and respect. Exhibiting emotional instability or going overboard can result in being held in contempt of court. As a lawyer, you must handle wins and losses with grace, learning from each experience to better your practice for future cases.

Let’s look at some other personality traits that are essential to becoming a successful lawyer - 

Communication skills

The traits of a successful lawyer include effective communication. Your words can determine the outcome of a case, the satisfaction of a client, or the success of a negotiation. Your ability to communicate clearly can win cases and earn trust. 

If you’re thinking about being a lawyer, start practising now. Join public speaking clubs to boost your confidence and refine your skills. If you’re tech-savvy, you may even consider starting a podcast. It’s a fun way to improve how you explain things. 

In law, every word counts, so ensure that whatever you speak is direct and truthful.

Prompt decision making

Being decisive is an important personality trait of a lawyer. Delayed decisions can lead to missed chances in court, giving the other side an edge. If you hesitate in objecting to something in court, it might negatively impact your case. In negotiations, if you seem unsure, others might try to take advantage of that. Not making decisions quickly can also make legal processes last longer, which can be more expensive for clients.

For law firms, taking too long to answer client questions or address team issues can harm the firm's image. In law, your reputation matters a lot. A damaged reputation can result in lost clients and income. So, if you find yourself already practising decisiveness now, even in small choices, you already have the characteristics of a good lawyer. 

Think you’ve got what it takes? 

Verify whether you’re cut out for a career in law with a personality test. Personality testing offers comprehensive assessments that gauge your aptitude, resilience, and compatibility so that you can gauge if you have the right mix of personality traits to become Harvey Specter in real life. This could be your first step in understanding if you have the traits of a successful lawyer. 

To sum up

If you want to become a successful lawyer, sure, getting into a top law school and acing your studies is crucial. But before even stepping into a classroom, you should have the personality traits of a lawyer like, analysing details, a resilience to face challenges, and an ability to understand and connect with people. If you have your heart set on a legal profession, start building on some of these soft skills right away.

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