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How to Keep Your Shark-Like Instincts in Check

By Betty Wang, JD | Last updated on

Why won't sharks attack lawyers? Professional courtesy.

Why do sharks make terrible lawyers? They're too nice!

Ouch. In celebration of the Discovery Channel's Shark Week, it's relevant to ask: as a lawyer, are you a shark? If you yourself don't display any negative shark-like characteristics, chances are that you definitely know someone in the field who does. So, what can be done? Here are three reminders on why you should keep your shark-like instincts in check:

1. Remember that you don't want to be that person. Every firm has this type (among many others), but you don't want to be the person that other associates and staff not only fear, but just outright dislike. Use this measure: if you weren't you, would you want to interact with you?

2. Preserve harmony in the workplace. Your firm may not be able to cope with an overly shark-like personality. This may be especially true if you work for a smaller firm where there's more of a communal feel. You don't want your attitude and sharp teeth to cut into what is actually a pleasant working environment.

3. Your behavior could come back around to bite you. If you're going to treat everything like we're living in a shark-eat-shark world, remember that this includes you. If you're unwilling to help others and willing to undercut others for your own personal gain, remember that the same might apply to you. While it may not matter as much with opposing counsel, in general, you should always try to minimize your enemies.

Editor's Note, July 7, 2015: This post was first published in August 2013. It has since been updated.

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