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Orientation has become almost law school’s mini-version of a summer associate program � lots of social events, tickets to sports events, and a good deal of substance � but few things that are graded. At Northwestern this year, our dean of students, Cliff Zimmerman, instituted an ambitious series of programs for new students known as the PORTAL (Professional ORganization, Team Advancement, and Leadership) Series. The series provided students with essential advice and experiences to prepare them for law school and also served as a big first step in addressing the renewed focus among law schools nation-wide on practical legal skills. The PORTAL Series consisted of seven programs presented to students divided into nine 40-student sections. The topics were: Entering the Business and Profession of Legal Services; Legal Ethics; Teambuilding, Conflict Resolution, and Diversity; Technology in the Legal Workplace; Professional Work Ethic; Self Assessment and Effective Management of a Career in Legal Services; and Financial Responsibility and Budgeting. I led the session on Self-Assessment and used the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), of which I am a staunch advocate, to help the students gain perspective on being in the legal educational and workplace settings. I borrowed and adapted a PowerPoint presentation developed by well-known Myers-Briggs experts in the legal arena, Don and Marty Peters. To start, I had each group physically relate to the type discovery process by dividing them first between Extraverts and Introverts along a line taped to the floor, then further dividing up the group with each subsequent scale until we had re-created the table containing the 16 Myers Briggs Personality Types. At each of the four stages in the process, I emphasized numerous points that related to their legal education. For example, we discussed how understanding one’s type helps to gain perspective on speaking in class and working in study groups. We discussed the MBTI in terms of blind spots and strengths. For example, people who prefer detail-orientation and can easily recite the facts of the case also need to understand the legal rules involved and the context of the case. The process-oriented spontaneous types were reminded about the importance of deadlines and the necessity of planning when faced with overwhelming amounts of complex information. The introverted types were encouraged to speak out in class and to test their ideas by bouncing them off of others. The extraverts were warned of the pitfalls of an entirely extraverted study group. All students were urged to seek out others of different types in forming study groups to avoid missing key points. As one might expect, in Myers-Briggs terms, law school and the legal profession are very “thinking” dominated with the focus on objective, logical and analytical approaches to legal issues. The thinking counterparts are the “feelers,” who focus more on human values, harmony and empathy and are a small minority in law school, about 20% according to Don and Marty Peters. I tried to let the feelers know that while law school may not come as naturally to them as it does to the “thinkers,” the legal profession desperately needs them. In fact, we need more of them. Most feelers come to law school to change the world in some small or large way and I wanted them to know that the law school stands behind them in the pursuit of those goals. Finally, we talked briefly about how to use the MBTI in finding a satisfying legal career. The most important slide showed that there are lawyers (based on the pioneering work of Larry Richard from the early 90s) and law students of every type. I also cautioned the students that just because your type indicates that you prefer working alone with details in a logical and planful fashion, you do not need to become a tax attorney. Any type can be successful in law school and in any legal career. In general, people will be happier the more often they get to use their preferred ways of taking in information and making decisions based on that information. I challenged the new students to avoid the easy paths: What would an extraverted big-picture-oriented tax attorney bring to the table? Or what would an introverted detail-oriented lawyer bring to large-scale commercial litigation? How can a “feeler” thrive at a large law firm? Anecdotal student feedback on this session and the PORTAL series as a whole has been positive. Perhaps the most important goal for the PORTAL series is to ensure that this year’s first-years make it successfully, confidently, and maturely through whatever the next three years have in store for them. William A. Chamberlain is assistant dean, Law Career Strategy and Advancement, Northwestern University School of Law.

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