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Legal innovation – unlocking your creativity

By Kate Dewhirst

The pressure to “innovate” is everywhere.

Even though the practice of law is not exactly renowned for being cutting edge, as lawyers we aspire to creating new ways of practice that improve the outcomes for our clients, increase our revenues, free us up for fun, add sex appeal to our party introduction “I’m a lawyer,” and generally avoid our being replaced by artificial intelligence.

So, what’s a follower of Richard Susskind to do? How do we innovate our practice? How do we change the practice of law?

One answer: We create.

Okay, good, right. Create. Perfect.

Ummmm…how do we add creativity to the legal to-do list?

Here are two ideas for unlocking your creativity …

Mindset: take “innovation” and “creativity” off the pedestal and embrace your creative soul

Frankly, being innovative and creative sounds lofty. You may be thinking – being creative is fine for the artists and tech giants of our world – but it’s not realistic for the average lawyer. Nope. Innovation and creativity are just words. And as lawyers – we do words.

I just read the book “The Advertising Solution” by Craig Simpson and Brian Kurtz.  And in that book they write:

“New – in every discipline – means never joined before.”


To be innovative all you have to do is connect things in a way they’ve never been connected before.

That’s what we do in law. We find connections. We look for themes. We find distinctions.  Law has its own inherent creativity. Embrace that you are and have the capacity to be creative. It’s not frivolous to work on your creative soul. It’s a key component to being an excellent lawyer.

Action: it takes practice

We all want the muse of inspiration to descend upon us and whisper in our ear how to turn our daily grind into an iPhone app.

But unlocking your creativity takes practice. Good old fashioned practice. Lucky for us, lawyers are good at practice.

Inspired by Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, I’ve recently added some new practices to my life that have unlocked my creativity.

Daily pages: Write. Write three pages a day. Of anything. It is really that simple – and that challenging. It’s usually best done in the morning (but I have little kids who wake me up – so do it whenever you can). Start with what you are thinking about. Write about how challenging the exercise is. And you will see – after awhile – that you start writing some really cool stuff. The daily pages aren’t for public consumption. The practice of unfiltered creative writing as a discipline unlocks something in your mind and body that gets past your inner critic of what is “good enough.” That inner critic is holding you back from your best ideas. Bypass your inner critic by writing for fun.

Artist’s Date: One hour per week, I take myself on an artist’s date. The rules: (1) I have to go alone (2) There can be no work interruptions (3) I have to record my observations. Go to a park, an exhibit, take a class. The list is endless. Characterizing an hour a week of your life as an artist’s date changes your inner voice. This practice opens up how you see yourself in the world. I am an artist. I am creative. I am inspired. I have fun. I have stories. I am alive. I love my work.

Want some inspirational reading for the summer?

Go forth. Be creative!

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