Monday, November 29, 2010

Can Reading Poetry Improve Lawyering Skills?

Yes, answer two academic lawyers. In  his well known article ”Rhyme and Reason: Why the Study of Poetry is the Best Preparation for the  Study of Law,” 46 College English 333 (1984), George Gopen gives the future law student  four  reasons to study poetry:

 I: No other discipline so closely replicates the central question asked in the study of legal thinking: "Here is a text; in how many ways can it have meaning?"

  II: No other discipline communicates as well that words are not often fungible.

 III: No other discipline concentrates as much on the effects of ambiguity of individual words and phrases. 

IV: No other discipline concentrates as much on the concept of contextuality.

 In his article, “The Poetry of  Persuasion: Early Literary Theory and its Advice to Legal Writers,” 6 Journal of the Association of  Legal Writing Directors 55 (2009), Stephen E. Smith argues writing that provides pleasure increases its persuasiveness. Therefore, the study of poetry helps the legal writer craft documents that are both pleasing and persuasive.

 The topic of poetry permits me to include my favorite poem of the autumnal season.

 who are you, little i

(five or six years old)
peering from some high

window; at the gold

of november sunset

(and feeling:that if day
has to become night

this is a beautiful way)

                                    E.E. Cummings


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