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Legal Shark Week: Which Type of Shark Are You?

By Mark Wilson, Esq. | Last updated on

Like it or not, Discovery's "Shark Week" is upon us again. And since lawyers are often referred to as "sharks," what better way to get into the spirit of FindLaw's second annual "Legal Shark Week" than for you to see which type of shark you are?

Like lawyers, sharks come in all shapes and sizes. There are even highly specialized sharks. There are transactional sharks and litiga -- well, maybe sharks don't work that way.

Why didn't the shark eat the lawyer? Professional courtesy. But we digress. Check out these five types of sharks to see which species you most closely resemble:

1. Great White Shark.

This is the shark that everyone wants to be, the king of the ocean, the inspiration for "Jaws." Lawyers who are great whites go after their adversaries coldly and ruthlessly. They also bait their prey, then attack once they take the bait. But great whites are solitary. Like its shark counterpart, the great white lawyer doesn't have that many friends, either because he works all the time or because he alienates them (rarely because he eats them, though). He puts on a lot of bluff and bluster, but secretly, he's a little sad inside.

2. Hammerhead Shark.

The hammerhead shark has "highly specialized sensory organs over their wide, mallet-shaped head," according to National Geographic. Because of their specialization, hammerheads are the tax attorneys of the ocean. Tax attorneys relish esoterica and become excited at the prospect of finding a new, picayune exception to the tax code. If ever there were a shark that could fill out Schedule K, it would be the hammerhead. But you won't catch them in a general civil practice. They'd rather be confined to one highly specific area of law -- or ocean.

3. Tiger Shark.

The tiger shark is known as a "garbage eater" because it will eat things like tires and license plates. The tiger shark is also nomadic; it will go wherever the food is. If you're a personal injury attorney, you might just be a tiger shark. Wherever someone has been rear-ended in a car accident, you'll be there. Wherever an old lady has been injured by an exploding radiator, you'll be there. And when ExamSoft fails -- that's right -- you'll be there to soothe the frightened bar-takers. If someone needs a bigger boat, your first question is, "Why wasn't the boat manufactured to be the right specifications in the first place?!"

4. Whale Shark.

The whale shark is pretty freakin' huge. In fact, it's the largest fish in the world (because, of course, you know that whales are mammals, not fish). Even so, they're benign, subsisting on plankton and algae. If you're an arbitrator or a mediator, you're the whale shark of the legal world. Sure, you could go out there and rip the juicy flesh off your adversaries, but what would be the point? Life is so much better when everyone gets along, and you really want everyone to come out of a negotiation feeling like they've won something.

5. Manta Rays.

Whoa, whoa, hold the phone. Manta rays? Yes, that's right: Sharks and rays are part of the same subclass, elasmobranchii. You're a mantra ray if, like lawyers, you don't have a swim bladder but you do have a rigid dorsal fin.

No, wait, I'm getting these metaphors mixed up; I know lots of lawyers without swim bladders. Anyway, you're a manta ray if, like politicians, paralegals, and law students, you share some things in common with lawyers, but you're not technically one of them.

What kind of shark do you want to be? Let us know on Twitter (@FindLawLP) or Facebook (FindLaw for Legal Professionals).

Going solo out of school? Spend more time developing practice skills and leave the marketing work for the experts.

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