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Quiz: Do you have what it takes to be an in-house lawyer, or should you open up a beach bar?

Take the Lawyers Standardized Quick and Unscientific Aptitude Test, or, the LSQUAT

People choose to go to law school for a lot of reasons. If you are “book smart” (as they used to say) and you don’t know what you want to do, but you want the comfortable life of a well-paid, urban professional something-or-other, law school has historically been the go-to career path. If you graduated in the top 10 percent of your class at an accredited law school, you were practically guaranteed a job with a firm or a government agency.

When I think about it, half of the in-house lawyers I’ve known over my career fit that description: goal-oriented, found law school to be a lot of work but not overly difficult, never completely sure what they wanted to do. Some of them were very good lawyers. Others were just O.K.

I was not one of those people. I wish I had been. I am a practicing lawyer today only because I made up my mind early on that I wanted to go through life as a lawyer. Over time, I learned that there are many skills and attributes critical to success as a lawyer that you can’t teach in law school. Some of these skills and attributes I already possessed, passed on to me by my mother and father. Others I had to work at mastering.

The traditional model for delivering legal services to companies—large, high-overhead law firms with partners and associates—is coming under increasing competitive pressure these days from more cost-effective alternatives such as networks of independent lawyers, management consultancies, outsourcing and online self-help services. In this openly competitive landscape, legal pedigree (class rank, school name, etc.) will no longer provide the same assurance of gainful employment it once did. Other skills and attributes, such as personal relationship skills, creativeness and innovation in giving advice and the ability to balance client objectives with ethics and compliance, will be just as important if not more so.

What kind of person will succeed as an in house lawyer in the new millennium? There aren’t any tools I know of that are especially designed to help someone measure their legal aptitude. The LSAT and LNAT only measure potential for success in law school, not in the practice of law.

So I came up with the LSQUAT.

The Lawyers Standardized Quick and Unscientific Aptitude Test (LSQUAT) is a set of 10 questions that will help prospective law students, recent law grads, even established lawyers, decide if they were born to be a lawyer, or whether they should open up that beach bar in the Caribbean.

The LSQUAT is a self-assessment test, so it will only be as effective as the participant is honest with himself or herself.

Ready? Click "next page" to see the questions and begin the test.

1. You want other people to think of you as:

  1. Sexy (1 point)
  2. Having a bright future (2  points)
  3. Above reproach (3 points)
  4. Empathetic (4 points)
  5. Someone whose advice people consider valuable (5 points)


2. You live in a town next to a river. A storm floods the town, and in the aftermath you discover some townspeople stranded on a building roof top in the middle of rising flood waters. What do you do?

  1. Do nothing, assuming help is on the way (1 point)
  2. Swim out to the rooftop to help the people on the rooftop swim back (2 points)
  3. Call 911, report the situation, and leave (3 points)
  4. Do C and try your best to communicate to the people on the rooftop that help is on the way, then leave (4 points)
  5. Do C and D and remain in sight of the people on the rooftop to reassure them, but resist attempting to rescue them yourself despite their pleas, then when the firefighters arrive be prepared to assist in a rescue as directed (5 points)


3. Your 11-year-old son was suspended from school for telling a group of girls at recess that he intended to tie them down onto a picnic table and light it on fire. What do you do?

  1. Have no reaction (1 point)
  2. Explain to your son about puberty (2 points)
  3. Call the girls’ mothers to apologize and smooth things over (3 points)
  4. Call the school to apologize and ask them not to put the suspension on your son’s record (4 points)
  5. Look up the law governing due process for school suspensions, then meet with the school and argue that your son didn’t necessarily say he was going to light the table on fire with the girls still tied on it (5 points)


4. If you are planning a weeklong canoeing and camping trip down the Colorado River in the Western U.S. with friends, you will:

  1. Go on the trip, worry-free (1 point)
  2. Take out traveler’s insurance on your camping equipment (2 points)
  3. Do B plus angle towards pairing up with the friend who is the strongest in a canoe (3 points)
  4. Do B and C plus research the river for the location and condition of the rapids and insist on planning around the dangers (4 points)
  5. Pull out of the trip if your concerns about the risks are not resolved, even if it means becoming estranged from the group (5 points)


5. You and a friend agree to fly across the U.S. to Los Angeles to pick up a vintage Ferrari convertible and drive it back to the East Coast. Would you have no difficulty taking the most direct route back, with as few stops as possible and without being tempted to make any side trips?

  1. Fully disagree (1 point)
  2. Somewhat disagree (2 points)
  3. Neither agree nor disagree (3 points)
  4. Somewhat agree (4 points)
  5. Fully agree (5 points)


6. Do you believe that most injustices can be adequately righted by the responsible party paying money to the injured party and everyone moving on as if nothing happened?

  1. Fully disagree (1 point)
  2. Somewhat disagree (2 points)
  3. Neither agree nor disagree (3 points)
  4. Somewhat agree (4 points)
  5. Fully agree (5 points)


7. You are standing in a crowd of people behind a rope watching a sports event. Do you have no hesitation making your way to the front, even if others are visibly annoyed?

  1. Fully disagree (1 point)
  2. Somewhat disagree (2 points)
  3. Neither agree nor disagree (3 points)
  4. Somewhat agree (4 points)
  5. Fully agree (5 points)


8. When you drive on the highway do you always obey the speed limit?

  1. Fully disagree (1 point)
  2. Somewhat disagree (2 points)
  3. Neither agree nor disagree (3 points)
  4. Somewhat agree (4 points)
  5. Fully agree (5 points)


9. You sit at a table in a crowded club and read a menu, with people dancing and talking all around you and electronic music piercing your ears. Can you instantly and easily commit all of the menu items to memory?

  1. Fully disagree (1 point)
  2. Somewhat disagree (2 points)
  3. Neither agree nor disagree (3 points)
  4. Somewhat agree (4 points)
  5. Fully agree (5 points)


10. You believe:

  1. For all practical purposes, there is no such thing as truth (1 point)
  2. Truth exists but is always shaped by perception (2 points)
  3. Truth exists and eventually comes out on its own (3 points)
  4. Truth exists but is usually obscured or suppressed by circumstances (4 points)
  5. Truth exists only when people stand up for it (5 points)

Bonus question: Worth 1-3 points.

Do you believe that Warner Huntington III, the ex-boyfriend in the movie, now musical, “Legally Blonde,” wasn’t as bad a guy as he was portrayed to be?

  1. Disagree (1 point)
  2. Neither agree nor disagree (2 points)
  3. Agree (3 points)



45+ You definitely have the makings of a lawyer.

38-45 You need to recognize your shortcomings and work on them.

37> Start practicing making Mai Tai’s. 

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Eric Esperne

Eric Esperne is counsel for Dell Services and is located in Canton, Mass. He has more than 15 years experience as in-house counsel for government,...

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