I recently overheard an elevator conversation that made me cringe and caused me to careen into a spiral of self-doubt. “My daughter is definitely going to be a lawyer when she grows up,” announced a woman, “She's always arguing and challenging me!”  Everyone chuckled knowingly, while I cringed and careened.

Confession: No one ever said I should be a lawyer. I was an obedient child who didn't talk back to authority figures.

Deeper confession: I am a fairly obedient adult who hates taking on authority figures.

So how can I be a public defender? Do I even deserve to be a public defender if I’m not a natural born arguer? Conversations like the one on the elevator make me question whether I’m really cut out for my chosen profession, because I don’t feel like I fit the stereotypical profile of a trial lawyer.  I manage to whip myself out of the spiral of self doubt by reminding myself of the following.  I'm outraged by injustice and always have been. I may have a naive respect for authority in general, but I get an adrenalin rush from taking on the particular authority figures who want to put my clients behind bars. It's not in my nature to embrace conflict and challenge people, but it's something I've learned. It is in my nature, however, to research concepts and organize my findings in a way that makes sense to others. I imagine some argumentative types may have had to learn those skills. Besides, growing up in a pro law and order environment, taught me how to make arguments to appeal to those folks.

Through chats with colleagues, I’ve come to the shocking realization that I’m not the only person who experiences self-doubt.  After observation, conversation, and introspection,  I've devised a list of traits that indicate that someone has potential to be a rockstar public defender:

You like to argue.

You hate to argue.

You love diving into legal research.

Legal research makes your eyes bleed.

You can think on your feet.

You can craft persuasive arguments after spending time alone in thought.

You hate the law.

You kinda secretly love the law.

You have contempt for authority.

You have respect for authority.

You are a collaborative problem solver.

You are a solo warrior.

You’re a people pleaser.

You don’t give a fuck what others think of you.

Chances are you'll be each one of those things over the course of your career– if not over the course of the day. Some moments you'll be in your element and some you'll be tapping into reserves you didn't know you had. But for gosh sakes, don’t be like me and let anyone on an elevator convince you that you are inadequate because you weren’t an argumentative little tyke.