Being an introvert in law school – moving outside comfortable

Yesterday, I read an American Bar Association Journal article about how law school and legal training is made for extroverts and so rarely fitted for introverts (most specifically in the way classrooms have been structured for 100 years, as well as the types of law you’re supposed to pursue). Can I get an AMEN?

Because of this, law school has been one large trust game for me –continually placing myself in one uncomfortable situation after another, trusting that by the grace of God I will come out on the other side. From the classroom to field experience, it’s been a game.

I know I am not alone in this.

While frequently this game has cornered me in fear, with several nights of little to no sleep, more and more I’ve seen how God has used these situations to strengthen and train me to learn and grow so I am even more equipped to pursue public interest law in whatever form it takes.

But God doesn’t call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if He doesn’t come through.”
― Francis Chan, Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God

I spent one year working at Equip for Equality (EFE), a disability rights organization, working with people with disabilities on abuse and neglect cases. Entering this internship, I was not comfortable cold-calling strangers or speaking on the phone for long periods of time. I was also worried I wasn’t qualified to conduct phone intake with people with severe mental illness and developmental disabilities. However, through this internship, I found a voice and patience I didn’t know I had. I pushed past these fears, and came out a stronger, more articulate advocate for people with disabilities.

My training at EFE has also been extremely helpful in volunteering at the Daley Center, helping people who can’t afford attorneys fill out legal paperwork. There have been several instances where people with severe disabilities effecting their speech have been at the desk, and I have been able to understand them and walk through the process patiently. Without my time at EFE, I would not have the know-how or patience to make sure they are adequately helped.

This semester, I stepped out of my comfort zone again. I am interning at the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation working on litigation for sexual abuse and sex trafficking cases. While my motto throughout law school has been “I would like to never step foot in a court room,” I decided to join this litigation team and help them prepare for trials.  I had no experience drafting paperwork necessary for these trials, and I was worried about inadequacy and how my work could directly impact victims of serious abuse. However, over the last month, I have learned more than I could have imagined through the extensive research projects I’ve been assigned. I have also seen how my training at EFE prepared me for sensitivity and understanding with another vulnerable and hurt group of clients.

Taking it a step further, I just accepted an internship offer for the summer to work at Cabrini Green Legal Aid in their family law division. Accepting this internship is a big step of faith, because I will be getting my 711 license, allowing me to be in court and represent clients just like an attorney. From what I’ve been told, I will be in court almost every day with clients working on child custody, child support, visitation issues, etc. I have no court room experience and I am terrified of the idea of it, but I know I will come out on the other side I better (future) attorney.

You know, God continues to be incredibly faithful through this journey. It is the most challenging and frustrating experience of my life, but at the same time, the most humbling and gratifying. 

Job found contentment and even joy, outside the context of comfort, health or stability. He understood the story was not about him, and he cared more about the story then he did about himself.”
― Donald Miller, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life

2 thoughts on “Being an introvert in law school – moving outside comfortable

  1. Ruth Baker says:

    I stumbled upon your blog thru something my daughter sent me on Pinterest. Thank You for sharing your story. I was diagnosed a week ago with the same type of cancer, and will be having surgery on March 16th. I appreciate your openness, it has helped me to understand a bit more of what may be ahead of me. Thank you!

    • Lydia Joy Ness says:

      Ruth, thank you so much for your comment. I will be praying for your surgery on March 16. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns! You can email me directly if you like – Lydiajoyness@gmail.com – take care!

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