Monday, September 12, 2011

Creative Limits: Lawyers as Musicians of the Law

I love classical music.  It combines the best of the form of creative structure and the creatitve, often emotional content that fills the structure.  Codas, counterpoints, tempo, motifs, rhythm, harmony, balance, recurrent themes, introductions and developments, all speak to the shape of an infinite number of creative possibilities.

When we work, we are given limits and structures.  We may not have a major part in the whole production, but even with our limited part, we have a structured space of time and effort to be filled by a creative expression.  I submit that every act can have some aspect of creativity and "play."   If you mop floors, you can dance and sing with your mop across the floor, or work out algebraic formulas, or vary the patterns and timing of the mop strokes.  You might even think of a new and better design for mops and buckets.   Creativity is a continuous mind set to see beyond what is to what could be.

In the Los Angeles Lawyers Philharmonic, the entire symphony is comprised of current judges, retired judges, and lawyers.  In 2 1/2 years the LALP has given over 24 concerts, including at Disney Hall, the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, and the Greystone Mansion.  I find it inspiring and refreshing to know my colleagues find quality creative outlets.  These musicians, I suspect, are creative and spontaneous people with the ability to change viewpoints in multiple areas of their lives, including the practice of law itself.  Creativity is not a practice that limits itself to one endeavor.  It is a personality trait that colors all activities. 

There is an old Celtic adage I have read:  "Don't entrust a sword to a man who does not dance." I tend to feel the same way about any conferral of power.  I don't know if Adolf Hitler ever joked, danced, or enjoyed a good party, or played a musical instrument.  I have never seen photos or footage of him doing any of those things.  I have seen footage of him raving like a maniac with a totally dour and angry expression, spitting out each word like a bullet.  I read that Hitler, in his youth, before getting into fascist socialistic politics, was a painter.  I think he may have given up painting at that particular fork in the road, turning instead to the stealing of fine art from Jews and captured nations.  Yet, I wonder, what might Hitler have become had he continued paiinting.  Maybe millions of innoncent people would have been spared. 

Of lawyers too, who are given the power to know, analyze, present, and practice law as a monopoly, the question is the same:  Can they be trusted?  I tend to trust people with big, passionate, hearts who delight in beauty and grace.  These people often show an ability to be in awe of things outside themselves.   In the words of apologist Francis Schaeffer in his book "True Spirituality" they are not their only "point of integration." 

While I realize we can't pick our lawyers or judges from The Los Angeles Lawyers Philharmonic, we can look to the whole characters and personalities of the "experts" we entrust with our legal cases, our government, our finances, our physicial health, our infrastructure, our environment, or any matter in which we confer on another the power to act on our behalf.  I submit that creativity, a sense of play and humor, may be an important indicator of whether that trust is well placed.  

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