Creativity in the Law Profession

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OnThePrecipice

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Creativity in the Law Profession

Postby OnThePrecipice » Tue Jan 15, 2019 9:31 am

Hello everyone. My apologies if this post is a bit ridiculous.

Basically, I value the freedom to think artistically, to consider the beauty of a solution along with its appropriateness, to invent; in short, the freedom to be creative is important to me. My main intention in asking the following questions is to better understand, with respect to the creativity permitted in law, the profession I might one day have. Answers to these questions will hopefully help me with this. So thank you in advance.

(1) According to your experience in or understanding of the law profession, to what extent is there the freedom to "do" law properly and creatively? Is law properly-done necessarily lacking in creativity, e.g., in the judge's interpretation of law?
(2) Which position within the law profession might have the most such freedom? Professors of jurisprudence, Supreme and appellate court judges?
(3) For those of you who genuinely enjoy studying/practicing law, where does your appreciation of the profession come from, if not from the freedom to be creative? Does it come from an enjoyment of meticulousness or the intricacies of language?

Npret

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Re: Creativity in the Law Profession

Postby Npret » Tue Jan 15, 2019 11:06 am

Law is designed to hinder creativity because it’s all based on existing established law and procedures.

My enjoyment of law come from problem solving issues of clients. There is some creativity in that but it’s not the type of creativity I think you describe.

My guess is that super creative lawyers have other outlets in their life to express creativity. I wouldn’t expect to find it in law.

criminaltheory

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Re: Creativity in the Law Profession

Postby criminaltheory » Tue Jan 15, 2019 12:53 pm

I get a creative thrill from:

-writing subsection headings
-styling the "question presented"
-making effective use of bullet points
-the challenge of writing a statement of facts in neutral tone but presenting facts in positive light
-using 1.5 inch left AND right margins

if you too find neurotic rule following to be a means of self-expression, you might enjoy being an appellate lawyer.

nixy

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Re: Creativity in the Law Profession

Postby nixy » Tue Jan 15, 2019 1:15 pm

Yeah, I take satisfaction in applying law to facts and in getting good outcomes. There’s some creativity in figuring out how to distinguish your facts from a bad case/analogize your facts to a good case, but more like solving a puzzle than painting a picture. Part of the whole point is not to look creative, as judges rarely want to look like they’re bucking the system - they want to feel comfortable that they’re applying the law correctly. (I’m a litigator - can’t speak to what corporate people do.)

Frankly I don’t think you’d like law. A focus on creativity and especially beauty doesn’t really fit into the profession (good legal writing is focused on being clear and persuasive, not beautiful, and even the best legal writers rarely get their writing described as beautiful. Maybe elegant. But if you’re interested in what is traditionally considered the beauty of language - things like aesthetics and imagery - you will find learning to write for a legal audience very frustrating.)

I think the only position that really involves the kind of creativity you suggest might be law prof (and people often make fun of law profs for being divorced from reality). Even SCOTUS justices, who have the greatest freedom in writing opinions, have to operate within the confines of established law, even when they decide to overturn it. However prof and SCOTUS justice (or even state Supreme Court justice) are super tough jobs to get.

Law’s a really practical profession. I think you might be happier looking at something else.

(I guess the exception I know of is criminal defense attorneys who go to trial a lot, a lot of those have talked about the freedom to be creative. But it’s within the framework of a given set of facts.)

objctnyrhnr

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Re: Creativity in the Law Profession

Postby objctnyrhnr » Tue Jan 15, 2019 6:48 pm

I think you’d benefit from reading the book point made by guberman. As examples, he presents some of the most creative stuff done in the litigation context. If that’s not creative enough for you, you probably shouldn’t be a lawyer.

OnThePrecipice

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Re: Creativity in the Law Profession

Postby OnThePrecipice » Tue Jan 15, 2019 10:33 pm

Based on what you all said, it does seem like the markers of a good practitioner of law have almost nothing to do with creativity, and a lot to do with facility with rigorous logical analysis and elegance (through clarity and precision) of writing.

Thanks to everyone for the replies; they were very informative.

jackdanielsga

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Re: Creativity in the Law Profession

Postby jackdanielsga » Wed Jan 16, 2019 8:53 am

It may be useful to go to the local courthouse and read some cases. Lawyer-prepared complaints and responses may be amusing. Also attending a few court sessions. That will give the first hand knowledge of what the law work is like.

Bingo_Bongo

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Re: Creativity in the Law Profession

Postby Bingo_Bongo » Thu Jan 17, 2019 1:31 am

Everyone here is too negative, you get to be creative in law. For example, if you practice in California courts you get to chose between using Bluebook style citations, or California Style Manual citations. Unless your employer makes you use one over the other.

But in all seriousness, there's room for creativity, especially if you're a litigator or trial attorney. Well written and witty pleadings can be effective if done right. Choosing the best way to frame an issue (one of the most important things you do) can take quite a bit of creativity. Opening statements and closing arguments require some creativity. Heck, you can even design your own graphics/charts if you like that sort of thing. Jury selection hypos/stories take creativity. Deciding how you're going to present evidence to the jury effectively takes creativity. In a trial, you're sort of like a director of a play. You want your trial to pack a punch; you want it to make sense; you want to keep it somewhat entertaining so jurors don't fall asleep...

But if you're doing transactional work, or working for a big firm, you likely won't see much, though. But as a litigator or trial attorney, creativity is actually a very important and underrated asset in my personal opinion.

nixy

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Re: Creativity in the Law Profession

Postby nixy » Thu Jan 17, 2019 8:08 am

Depends how you’re looking at creativity, I think. I agree that litigation very much requires coming up with a strong and convincing narrative and that that kind of story-telling requires a certain kind of creativity. (I think especially on the defense side.) The red flags for me were the OP’s references to “artistically” and “beauty.” Those words suggest to me that compiling a narrative within the constraints of the facts of a case might not be what the OP is thinking of as creativity. (Also I think law requires a weird kind of creativity that is actually not at all about originality.)

Also “witty” pleadings worry me because I think the potential to fuck them up is far greater than the potential benefit you get for aiming for them. If you can pull them off, great, but I don’t think most lawyers can.

OnThePrecipice

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Re: Creativity in the Law Profession

Postby OnThePrecipice » Thu Jan 17, 2019 10:35 am

nixy wrote:“artistically” and “beauty.” Those words suggest to me that compiling a narrative within the constraints of the facts of a case might not be what the OP is thinking of as creativity. (Also I think law requires a weird kind of creativity that is actually not at all about originality.)


I think you got to the heart of my question. What I meant by "creativity" can be boiled down to originality of the work-product. My understanding of the law profession, which seems supported by many of these answers, is that it rewards good rule-following (logic) -- like someone suggested, bucking the system is discouraged. If so, it seems originality & innovation must, for the most part, be stifled when properly doing law.

Very interesting, and thanks again for all the insights. For reference, if anyone's curious, I'm comparing the practice of law to that of philosophy. I am sure many people practice law as a means to an end (money, justice for the wronged, etc.); I'm trying to look at the merits inherent in each practice.

nixy

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Re: Creativity in the Law Profession

Postby nixy » Thu Jan 17, 2019 11:42 am

I don’t think lawyers generally even value looking at the merits inherent to the practice outside of the outcomes it can reach. Law isn’t really an academic field; it’s practical. Its whole purpose is to be a means to an end.

Again, thinking about it more, I think criminal defense and probably impact lit has some of what you suggest - those practitioners look at the state of the law and try to come up with creative ways to change it (like Ginsburg establishing gender discrimination as a valid charge by bringing a case with a male plaintiff). But that’s as close as it gets to what you seem to be considering.



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