“I think law can eat up your soul, especially trial law. I think being creative allows your humanity to come out. As lawyers, especially trial lawyers, we have to put up with a lot of negative things: difficult opposing counsel; extremely negative outcomes; a lot of frustration. I think this probably heals some of that,” explained Jeff Akins (pictured, left), a lawyer and a poet.
He’s a member of a monthly poetry group that another lawyer, Darby Riley, started 20 years ago, after taking a poetry class at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio.
Each member writes a poem and passes it out; the group discusses each one. Two decades after Riley (pictured, left), a partner in Riley & Riley in San Antonio, started the group, six to 12 poets meet at his law office for the critique session.
Both lawyers said practicing poetry makes their legal writing better.
Akins noted that the poets sometimes spend five minutes discussing the placement of one comma in a poem. That level of scrutiny made Akins “pay attention to every word” in his legal writing, he said.
Riley said he thinks judges neither want not like “to see rote-type and unimaginative ways of presenting things. They want it succinct, and poetry is very succinct.”
Better writing isn’t the only benefit of poetry. Both Riley and Akins said it’s a creative release from the legal world.
“It is a release. You reach into your soul to write poetry at any level,” explained Akins. “I was amazed at the creative feeling that one had, and then you write something, and other people are moved by it or affected by it, and you’re like, ‘Wow, this is powerful.’”
-- Angela Morris