Following up on his previous posts on lawyers’ personality traits (autonomy and skepticism), Ian Hu (practicePRO and Claims Prevention Counsel at LAWPRO) discusses “urgency”, which measures a lawyer’s need to get things done and degree of impatience.
Consultant Dr. Larry Richard states in his LAWPRO article that such lawyers are more likely to finish others’ sentences, jump to conclusions, and be impulsive.
A lawyer with a high sense of urgency will complete tasks in a timely manner. Her impatience serves her well in moving her files at a good pace. She is efficient and economical at work. She is unlikely to drop a deadline, which may help her avoid malpractice claims. Her clients love her high level of responsiveness. In these ways urgency is a good trait to have in a lawyer.
But urgency has a downside. Being impatient, the urgent lawyer is likely to have difficulty listening to others. As a senior associate or partner, she has a tendency to jump to conclusions and neglect to consult others on decisions. Her intensity and results-oriented style may grate on her staff. Her brusque manner may annoy partners and colleagues. Her expectation that her relationships should be as efficient as her work may be troublesome.
As with skepticism and autonomy, urgency is a trait that good lawyers have, but it comes with a cost in a team environment like a law firm. To lessen the negative impact of these traits, self-awareness and a real attempt to change behaviour can help, as can hiring a diversity of personalities. At the same time I have found that it helps to identify such traits in colleagues. People are easier to forgive and to work with when you know them.