The average lawyer who is asked to sell differs from the average sales professional in many important ways.  In a well-known study, Dr. Larry Richards used the Caliper Profile to discover the personality traits common to various successful professionals – including lawyers.

Richards uncovered certain personality traits that set lawyers apart from non-lawyers.  Lawyers score high on abstract reasoning (82 percent), which is no surprise.

Richards found that lawyers score high on skepticism (90 percent), autonomy (89 percent) and urgency (71 percent).  “The skeptical lawyer will question everything; the autonomous lawyer will resist being managed; and the urgent lawyer will be impatient and want to see immediate results,” said Brown.  “None of these qualities is particularly helpful when it comes to business development.”

Richards also found that lawyers score low on sociability (7 percent) and resilience (30 percent). “Lawyers with low sociability scores are reluctant to open up their personal lives to others,” said Brown.  “They play it close to the vest.  The less-resilient lawyer is unable to bounce back easily from criticism or rejection.  These qualities hinder lawyer efforts at business development.”

In a related study, Richards focused on lawyers in particular — comparing a group of lawyers, all rated as excellent lawyers by their peers, who differed only in their business development skills.

“The biggest differentiators between the rainmakers and less successful lawyers were ‘ego drive’ and ‘resilience,’” said Brown.  “Ego drive is the desire to persuade others for the sheer joy of getting someone else to agree with them.”

Resilience is the ability to bounce back from criticism or rejection.  When a prospect says ‘no,’ a lawyer with low resilience takes the rejection personally and wants to quit.  A lawyer with strong resilience feels challenged and just wants to try harder.

“Lawyers as a group differ from other professionals in their personality traits,” said Brown.  “Plus, lawyers who are successful rainmakers differ considerably from lawyers who are not.  This does not mean that lawyers as a group cannot be effective rainmakers.  They need to be aware of their natural tendencies, discover what works for them, and then work harder at it.”

This is part two of a six-part article.  For the entire article:


Match lawyers’ business development efforts to personality traits