Over the last couple of years, I’ve written a good bit about the importance of lawyers engaging and exploring their creativity. In fact, I’ve gone so far as to say that when we take time away from work to devote to family, hobbies, and exercise, we will be better lawyers. I can’t understate the importance of using all our gifts, rather than suppressing them for the sake of the billable hour. Your creative expression may take the form of cooking, writing, photography, knitting, or singing; whatever it is, do not forsake it.
For a decade, through high school and into my early 20s, I wrote creatively and was an avid photographer. Then for a while the creative writing fell off, and I really focused on my photography. This continued through law school and into my first couple of years of practice. The in 2014, we had our first kiddo and the spare time I had once had evaporated. There was about a two-year void where I didn’t engage in any creative outlets. But in 2016, I really felt an internal push to do something.[This is an excerpt from Level Up Your Law Practice, which is now available for purchase.]
If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you know this is what became of that urge. It has since grown and evolved in ways I could not have dreamed of three years ago. I have met people and done things that would not have been available or possible otherwise. As an example, my second book Stop Putting Out Fires is coming out soon. I am actively working on the next two books. And I have a half-dozen other book ideas in various stages of formulation. I have fully adopted a creative life that I make time for in addition to having a busy law practice and raising a young family.
Frank Ramos (managing partner at Clarke Silvergate) recently posted
about not losing your creativity as one of his daily thoughts on LinkedIn:
Somewhere along the way, many of us lost our imaginations. Remember elementary and middle school, where we painted and drew, wrote short stories and poems? Many of us put those days and activities away years ago, and never looked back. Look back. Take a drawing or painting class, take a fiction class or improv class. Stimulating your imagination will help you view you cases in a new light and possibly lead to epiphanies for case themes or theories.
Here are some other lawyers I’ve interviewed who have also intentionally cultivated their creativity and found it rewarding:
- Keith Lee of Associate’s Mind and LawyerSmack
- Curt Runger of Attorney Mentors
- Portia Porter, author of How to Stiff Your Divorce Lawyer (Amazon)
- Phillip Lewis, author of The Barrowfields
I want to take this opportunity to encourage you not to neglect your creativity and side hustles and hobbies. Taking the time and opportunity to recharge ourselves is imperative to maintaining mental and emotional health. To do your best work, you must be your best self.