Self-Assessment

University of St. Thomas School of Law students and alumni now have the opportunity to participate in a number of formal assessments, including the MBTI and Strong Interest Inventory

Click here to learn more about each test. After you complete your self-assessment, call 651-962-4860 to schedule an appointment with Cathy or Kendra to help turn your vision into your reality

PART ONE: Introduction - The Importance of Self-Assessment

Self assessment, or examination, is the first quarter of the Career Stages Wheel.  It means reflecting on who you are and what is important to you to give your career direction.  Here are some exercises designed to help you access this information. 

1. First, let’s start broad with the big question: why are you here? This question can be phrased in a number of ways:

    • Why are you in law school?
    • What do you want to contribute to society after you get out of law school?
    • What is your life's purpose?

This is a larger question that we all need to answer to see the connection between what we are doing day to day and the larger purpose of our lives.  Your mission is what will get you out of bed every morning to do your job.

As an example, we have a mission statement for CPD.  Here it is:

We will empower students as they explore and create careers inspired by passion and rooted in faith and values. We will support them so that they aspire to greatness and flourish with confidence as servant leaders and ethical professsionals.

2. Write your own Mission Statement.

PART TWO: Identify your Gifts

Your gifts are the skills or aptitudes you have for particular types of work or activities.  You know what these are because you typically do well when engaged in these activities or you have obtained feedback from others that you are good at these activities. 

1. List ten experiences/moments in time where things were working or falling into place for you and you were experiencing success.  Another way to look at this is to list experiences you are most proud of.  These can be in a work, academic, social, community or personal setting. 

2. Review the list of “Lawyer Skills‌” that we have provided (PDF). Circle your top skills.  Provide examples of how you have demonstrated these skills. 

3. Make a list of people whom you trust & who know you well in different contexts & ask them to identify your greatest strengths/skills.  (Suggestion: volunteer to do the same for them.  It also may be useful to write down their strengths for them and have them do the same this encourages more thoroughness.) 

4. Review the Attorney Wanted advertisements in Bench & Bar or other source for job ads.  Pick out several that appeal to you.  Identify the skills necessary to do these jobs.  Provide examples of how you have demonstrated those skills in the past or whether you can learn those skills.

5. (Second Career Students)  For each job you have held, list your top 5 successes or accomplishments (ranging from increasing sales to helping a student learn to read to earning a promotion to surviving a difficult boss or co-worker).  Identify the skills that enabled you to succeed.

PART THREE: Identify your Passions

The next step is to identify to what inspires and motivates you.  What subject areas do you want to work on everyday?  What do you want to do with your time?  There are many different possibilities here. 

 

  1. When you read the Sunday paper (or surf the internet), what type of articles do you read first?
  2. When you talk with your friends about substantive issues, what do you talk about?
  3. Write down your favorite subjects in law school or college.  Identify what you like about them.
  4. Having difficulty with those listed above? Try this: 
    1. Describe a job that would make you miserable.  Get very specific. Describe the work you would do, the people you would work with, whether you’d work with people at all, how long your commute would be, how much variety you’d have in your work, whether you’d have a lot of direction, a little, receive a lot of feedback or very little, etc.  
    2. Now, flip it address each revolting aspect of the job you described and describe its opposite.

 

PART FOUR: Clarify Your Values

Some of you came to UST because of its Catholic identity, because of its unique mission and vision as a law school or because of the ingenuity and enterprising spirit of a new school like UST.  Regardless of your motivation, you are all in law school because of particular values you hold.  It will serve you well if you take time to identify what really matters to you and what you will not compromise as you proceed into the job search process.  

1. Try taking our Values Shopping Spree!

2. Write a paragraph on one of the following: Why you chose UST Law School or What does the mission of UST law school mean to you and your career choices.  (There is no right answer to this question.  For some it may mean a career in public interest and for others it may mean a private sector career with pro bono on the side.  Some may believe it means regardless of the type of employer, making choices in a certain way.  This question should reflect your personal values and understanding of the mission.)

3. (Second Career Students or students with work experience.)  Think about your most favorite (or least favorite) work experiences.  Make a list of what made the experience enjoyable or deplorable for you. 

4. For a slightly morbid exercise, try the following:

Part 1: Close your eyes and imagine you are driving home from class today, swerve & are hit by a semi.  It’s over. You are gone.  List your three regrets.

Part 2: Close your eyes and imagine that instead of the untimely demise, you drive home safely, graduate from law school and go on to lead a happy & fulfilling life –whatever that looks like to you.  You die of natural causes at a ripe old age.  What will your tombstone quote read?  What will your message be to others about what is important in life.

Here are some additional resources that can help you clarify your values:

  • Guerilla Tactics for Getting the Legal Job Of Your Dreams, by Kimm Walton, Chapter 2, Deciding What The Heck The Job Of Your Dreams Is.
  • Should You Really Be A Lawyer? By Deborah Schneider & Gary Belsky, Chapter on Self Assessment, Skills Exercises.  

PART FIVE: Discern Your Direction - Tying it All Together

At the final stage, you discern what all of this information means.  To do so, you need to look at your answers and determine whether there are common themes that flow through what you are looking for.   You will also consider your highest priorities and analyze whether any of your skills, interests, or values may contradict.  Then, use the common themes to guide what you select and what you are looking for.

1. Look back at the three categories and identify the top five themes in each area.

Gifts Passions Values
1.                         1.                          1.                        
2.                         2.                          2.                        
3.                         3.                          3.                        
4.                         4.                          4.                        
5.                         5.                          5.                        

2. Look for meta-themes as well as contradictions.  Examples of each:

Meta-themes do the items within each grouping or among the groups suggest an overarching theme?  (For example, if you identify your skills as mediating & working with people and you place a value on working with people and solving their problems, that may be a meta-theme)

Contradictions - If you identify that you value high salary, low work hours, and indigent clients, ask yourself if these goals might be contradict each other.

3. Look back at your mission statement from PART 1, and think about how your gifts and passions can fit in with or how you can use them to further your life’s mission.   Can you see a connection or a way you can use them? 

PART SIX: Next Steps

Based on your gifts, passions & values, identify 2-3 areas of practice which you would like to find out about first that are compatible with your gifts, passions and values

1. Check out various resources with information about skills required and interests and values of attorneys in different practice areas.  Here are a few suggested resources:  

  • Guerilla Tactics, by Kimm Walton
  • The NALP Official Guide To Legal Specialties, by Lisa Abrams
  • ABA Career Profiles
  • What Can You Do With A Law Degree? by Deborah Aaron.  Chapter on Transferable Skills Analysis
  • Guerilla Tactics for Getting the Legal Job Of Your Dreams, by Kimm Walton, Chapter 2, Deciding What The Heck The Job Of Your Dreams Is.
  • I Could Do Anything If Only I Knew What it Was, by Barbara Sher.
  • Should You Really Be A Lawyer? By Deborah Schneider & Gary Belsky, Chapter on Self Assessment, Skills Exercises.

Compare & contrast your skills, interests and values with those required by these practices areas.

2. Develop list of 2-3 attorneys in each of these areas with whom to talk.

How? Talk to people or attorneys you know to get names of attorneys in these areas.  Join bar associations in your areas of interest.  Come talk with someone in CPD, your mentor, professors, or UST staff to get names of attorneys in different practice areas.  Click here for further Networking Resources.

3. Develop list of questions to ask attorneys about their work - here are some examples:

  • What kind of work do you do?
  • How did you get into that field?
  • What do you like most about it?
  • What are the top 3 skills that a person needs to be good at your job?
  • What do you find most challenging?
  • What would make your job easier?
  • What are the biggest challenges facingr attorneys practicing X in the next two years?
  • Describe your average week/day?
  • What do you think the most common misperceptions are about your practice area?
  • Add your own questions based on what you have discovered is important to you in a career.