Lawyers Who Exercise Both Sides of Their Brains

We lawyers are frequently thought of as an intellectually-focused and logic-driven group, often found knee deep in dusty casebooks, statutes and even the Tax Code. It may surprise lay readers, and even some lawyers, to know that lawyers are people too, and even embark on creative, self-exploratory pursuits in their somewhat rare free time. So, it comes as no surprise to me that there are lawyer poets out there prolifically creating verse more pleasing to the ear than an explanation of how in rem jurisdiction applies in the instant dispute in an Opposition to a Motion to Dismiss.

Thanks to Victoria Pynchon, over at Settle It Now, for this great link to Strangers To Us All: Lawyers and Poetry. The site is full of listings and resources, anthologies and books about and by poet / lawyers. I enjoyed poking around, repeatedly finding myself smiling at the refreshing marriage of law and poetry. While I have written a song lyric or two in my day, I cannot claim the poetic touch exhibited by the drafter of the text on the site’s homepage, which concludes with this:

We may find that the poet, like the lawyer, sees the world in a nuanced way that demands it be addressed with a special language, language that calls attention to itself and sets itself apart by form, rhythm, and practice. Both poetry and law are acquired taste, all the more surprising, to have such tastes acquired by a single person.

I couldn’t have said it better myself. For more creatively intellectual stimulation, check out the poetry section from the current edition of r.kv.r.y quarterly journal for some choice selections.

2 comments on “Lawyers Who Exercise Both Sides of Their Brains

  1. Thanks for the shout out! Two of my best poet friends are in James Elkin’s list of lawyer-poets: criminal defense attorney Joe Mockus and construction defect and insurance coverage litigator Rick Wirick. Some of Joe’s recent poetry here: and Rick’s brilliantly lyrical & haunting 100 Siberian Postcards here:

    My own return to poetry after 12 years of legal practice brought me back to my senses (literally) and balanced my life with the law for the first time.

    I’ve often said that law is the default profession for liberal arts majors who don’t want to starve in a garret. And a writer no less a genius than Flaubert said “inside every lawyer is the wreckage of a poet.” As James Elkin’s site demonstrates, we do not have to abandon our creative pursuits when we reach legal shores; in fact, to do so is to suffer a little death.

  2. Exactly my thoughts: where is the benefit of losing ourselves in the practice of law by giving up our artistic interests? Why commit to one intellectual pursuit to the exclusion of other creative media and risk losing balance. The same fire that fuels our passion for law can ignite our art, in turn making us better lawyers. Engaging in the arts while practicing law is just another way of contributing to the world around us: we bring tangible assistance to those in legal need and beauty to our audience through poetry, art, music, dance, or any other creative endeavor.

    In short, applying less poetic words, “It’s all good.”


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