by Dr. Lance B. Eliot
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Key briefing points about this article:
- Being considered a creative lawyer has both merits and drawbacks
- Part of the issue is that the word “creative” invokes a wide range of connotations
- Some fervently believe that the best lawyers are in fact creative lawyers
- How can lawyers all-told be boosted in their creativity if they wish to do so?
- AI legal reasoning systems might be one handy tool for that creativity push
Some welcome being referred to as a creative lawyer, while others might reject the moniker of being creative and prefer instead to be known as simply a steadfast lawyer. If we asked a roomful of attorneys to each raise their hand if any thought that they were particularly creative as a lawyer, what would happen?
I dare say that most would probably look around the room and first pointedly ask what does it mean to indicate that someone is a creative lawyer.
Given the predilection toward defining words and the need to be clear-cut about the meaning of words in the law, there would likely ensue a great clamor as the phrase “creative lawyer” was summarily picked apart.
Non-lawyers might immediately recoil at the notion of engaging a so-called creative lawyer. Heck, clients might exclaim, I just want a lawyer that will do their job. No need to be crazily creative. Just perform the required legal wrangling straightforwardly and somberly, doing whatever it is that lawyers seem to do.
In a now-classic analysis of creativity in the legal profession, Gordon MacLeod in his 1963 scholarly article entitled “Creative Problem Solving — For Lawyers?” in the Journal of Legal Education raised the question about whether attorneys ought to be creative or whether that is a bridge too far. His weighty conclusion was that of course creativity is desirable and even expected: “Perhaps the…