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From the Back Corner


Source: Bookrepublic

If there is one thing this profession pushes from the very beginning, it’s law as perspective, law as mindset, legal reasoning as a lens through which you need to view the world. This is certainly sound advice and undoubtedly relevant to achieving success as a lawyer, but even legal reasoning has its limits. Bring a lawyer’s methodology into a relationship dispute, and surprisingly, a logically sound argument ceases to be so dispositive. It’s tempting to think that the other side simply lacks the good sense to cede victory, but in truth this is a bumping into the artificiality of law and an acknowledgment of the distance between it and our lives.


The case law we’re inundated with strives for clarity of language and consistency of principle. The cost of achieving this efficient product is that everything purely idiosyncratic, contextual and sentimental gets left on the cutting room floor. As a result, legal reasoning swings between the pedantically declarative and the dryly analytical, all the while rarely, if ever, achieving eloquence.


It is for this reason that non-legal reading can be such a reprieve. This might be a hard sell given that “readings” are generally associated with syllabi and burdens. However, divorced from doctrines and testability, remember that reading is broadly considered to be a leisure activity. Sit down with a well written novel and realize how much of the communicative act can fall outside of the legal purview. Try to enjoy how a skilled author can revel in burying the lead, obscuring the narrative, and leading the reader in the most meandering of ways to the conclusion. Appreciate how pliancy of perspective can greatly intensify, rather than diminish, the overall effect of a work. Most importantly, after having learned how to employ a legal perspective, learn also how to set it aside. Unless of course you’re intending to marry within the profession anyways.


September book recommendation:

Dubliners, by James Joyce

By Ryan Wiens