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John Vander Luit

Editor, Solicitors Journal

Are you Mr Argumentative?

Are you Mr Argumentative?


Can you judge a lawyer by their personality type?

If you were to compare yourself to a Mr Men character, who would it be: Mr Funny, Mr Worry, Mr Messy, or Little Miss Wise? It sounds like a random question, but for some employers the answer to this strange inquiry may make or break your career hopes.

Key cutting and shoe repair business Timpson hires its staff according to which dominant personality trait they would be – with characters like Mr Cheerful and Mr Busy supposedly scoring highly.

‘We purely interview for personality,’ John Timpson told the BBC earlier this year. ‘We’re not bothered by qualifications or CVs. We just look at the candidate and work out who they are, are they Mr Grumpy, Mr Slow, Mr Happy?’

Timpson, who has been leading the family firm for over four decades, explained that while you can train a person to do a job, you cannot train their personality. This testing for prospective employees isn’t just limited to Timpson, however.

While a common recruitment practice in corporate America, a number of law firms across the Atlantic now put their faith in such testing, believing it can give them an edge in the talent war for junior lawyers.

As reported by, Omaha-based Koley Jessen has relied on The Right Profile, a talent analytics consultancy, to run psychological tests to help place summer associates within the firm. Becker & Poliakoff is another which uses an online multiple-choice test to discover key personality traits in its lateral hires, according to Law360.

Vario, the contracting arm of Pinsent Masons, has said it uses personality tests to ensure the right lawyer is matched with the right client.

Through research with business psychologists, a series of personality tests for new joiners has been created. Vario director Matthew Kay explained that the testing method has a variety of benefits, such as helping improve diversity in a business.

‘If personality testing is done properly and with the right due diligence, it can be a great way to not just overcome unconscious bias, but also delve more deeply into a potential new hire’s personality and ability.

‘We use such measures at Vario to great effect to ensure the right lawyer is matched with the right client. Through research with business psychologists, we created a series of personality tests for new joiners. These tests have been carefully honed over time and are now a reliable way to match a new contract lawyer with their perfect assignment.

‘Measures like personality testing can be a simple and cost effective way to ensure businesses wake up to the flaws in their recruitment process and hire a more diverse and successful team.’

But what is the average lawyer’s personality type? As previously reported in 2010, following extensive testing, lawyers, on the whole, have Type IITJ personalities – ‘introversion, intuition, thinking, and judging’, which translates to being cold, argumentative, competitive, and materialistic. Sound like anyone you know?