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Why my kids make me a better lawyer

Sometimes, it seems like there isn’t room for much creativity in the legal profession. You have to be right—not creative—because you are fighting for the rights and interests of other people. People who are paying you.

But the truth is, practicing law does require you to be creative. Just not in the traditional, artistic sense. Although you wouldn’t know it to see some attorneys’ handwritten edits, or handwriting, for that matter.

To practice law well, you have to be able to make connections, comparisons, and, sometimes, to think outside the box. And these are all abilities that require creativity.

The Wall Street Journal recently published an article on “What Makes Kids Creative.” It starts off with an example of a fourth-grader tasked with creating a board game to play with a friend. The little boy froze. He
couldn’t think of anything. Ultimately, the teacher gave the boy permission to instead make flashcards with right and wrong answers.

The law doesn’t have right and wrong answers. And sometimes (admit it) we freeze too.

So what does the article recommend? What makes kids creative? Ask yourself questions, the article suggests. Brainstorm. And don’t judge your ideas. Invent spontaneous lyrics and dances.

Now a lawyer should probably refrain from inventing a spontaneous song or dance when asked a freeze-inducing question by a judge in court. But brainstorming is a good way to get things started in the privacy of your own office—even if you’re working on your sixth set of discovery requests.

As for me? I’m going home to invent a spontaneous dance with my kids before I get started on those discovery requests.