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The Introverted Lawyer’s Powerhouse Playbook

Law school wasn’t easy for Heidi Brown. 

She grappled with extreme public speaking anxiety which made it difficult to speak in class, try out for court teams, or go to interviews. 

Whenever she got nervous, her face would turn bright red, which only made things worse. 

But she pushed through, and got a job out of law school as a construction litigator. While she excelled at research, writing, and problem-solving, she still struggled with the performance aspects of being a lawyer. 

In her fifteenth year of litigating, she started teaching on the side. As a teacher, she realized that her strongest legal writing students (most creative problem solvers, deepest thinkers, and most thoughtful analysts of complex topics) were also the most afraid. 

These students would confide in her about their fear of being cold-called in class or trying out for teams they wanted to be on. Even though they were intellectually prepared, they were nervous. 


So Heidi started to do some research. 

She knew she had to help herself first before she could help her students. Through writing and researching other experts in introversion, like Susan Cain who wrote the book Quiet, she realized something: 


Introversion was not a weakness, it was a superpower. 

Introverts were deep, methodical thinkers. They could listen to people talk, absorb their different ideas, and synthesize those ideas into solutions. 

Today, Heidi is an author, speaker, and ambassador for how introverts can be their authentic, quiet selves but have a powerful impact in the law profession.

She is building off her foundation of 30 years of legal practice in academia to champion the importance of openly discussing stressors, anxieties, and fears in lawyering to improve lawyer well-being. 

I asked Heidi to go a little deeper into the difference between introverts and extroverts. 


Introversion vs. Extroversion

Introversion and extroversion are just the ways that we as individuals differently process competing stimuli coming at us and also how we replenish energy. 

Both introverts and extroverts can function well in highly stimulating environments like the courtroom, but where an extrovert might gain energy from that stimulation, an introvert is depleted in energy. The way an introvert replenishes energy is by being alone or in a quiet space to reduce all that stimulation.

Heidi believes the more we get to know ourselves and talk about these things, the better we can work together in teams. Extroverts can realize what introverts need. Introverts can realize what extroverts need. As teammates, we can enhance each other’s performance and our happiness. 

I asked Heidi, “What do introverts need to start paying attention to about themselves? What are some self-care things they can do to rejuvenate themselves?”


Here was her response: 

Treat yourself like an athlete. 


Heidi knows she needs to prepare herself to ramp up for highly stimulating environments like the courtroom or networking events, so she treats herself like an athlete. She puts on an outfit that makes her feel cool and powerful, and she sets a time limit for herself. 

In the past, she felt like she had to compete with her extroverted friends, but she eventually came to realize she couldn’t hold herself to that standard. Now, she gives herself the goal of having real conversations with three people, instead of trying to meet everyone. 

Often when her time is up, she does a good ole Irish Exit. 


Untangle the fear. 


For years, Heidi tried to force herself to do things anyway when she was afraid. But pretending she wasn’t afraid wasn’t working for her. Eventually, she learned how to untangle the fear instead. 

Now, she challenges lawyers to do some mental and physical reflection about what they’re actually afraid of when they step into a performance situation. Is it really a particular judge or opposing counsel they’re afraid of? 

Nine times out of ten, when people peel back all those layers, the fear is more like fears they had in high school. We’re afraid of being rejected, excluded, looking foolish, or making a mistake. If we peel back those layers, we can understand what’s going on. 


Develop Your Somatic Intelligence. 


We’ve heard of emotional intelligence, but somatic intelligence is understanding what's happening in our physical bodies when we are stepping into different scenarios.

For Heidi, this means paying attention to how her physical body reacts in certain situations. Typically, her face heats up and turns red, which makes her self-conscious. Then she shrugs her shoulders. She freezes up, then she wants to flee. 

When we go into fight, flight, or freeze mode like this, our brain shuts down. In order for us to perform like athletes, we have to reverse that by realizing what’s happening and then recalibrating. 

When Heidi notices her negative mental soundtrack kicking in, she knows she has to stop it. Sometimes she will literally write it down and say things like, “No, you’ve done the work like an athlete. You’re mentally prepared. You’re substantively prepared. You care about what you’re about to do. It doesn’t have to go perfectly. In fact, imperfection is more real and authentic.” 

If she feels herself blushing, she says, “This means I’m alive!” Then, she shifts her shoulders back and stands in a power pose (shout out to Amy Cuddy). She stands with her hands behind her head or on her hips. 

She steps into the performance arena with a clutch mindset that says, “I can do this for the next 45 minutes. It doesn't have to go perfectly. I'm going to be more authentic if I'm my real self.” 

I loved this conversation with Heidi because the key is not trying to be someone else. The key is discovering who we are and leaning into our unique superpowers so we can bring our best, most authentic selves to our life or practice. 

Life feels so much better when you do things this way. 


Here’s where to find Heidi: 


Instagram: Introverted Lawyer

Email: [email protected]

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