Parvin Dad.pngI have posted at least some of this a few times over the years. Now that I am recruiting, I believe it is pertinent for what I will try to look for in candidates I will try to place.

In a nutshell, I believe the lawyer who sees things others miss will be most valuable for a new law firm.

My dad’s birthday was Saturday, March  31. If he was alive he would have been 107. He passed away in 1980.

My dad was an artist, a photographer, a musician, and an entrepreneur. He loved fishing and hunting. He also loved refurbishing sports cars.

I never gave him the chance to teach me to draw, paint or carve. I was too busy playing baseball, basketball, and football. He tried to teach me to play the piano, but I wouldn’t practice so he gave up.

When I was a teenager, my dad frequently towed home sports cars that he refurbished and repaired in our garage and then resold. I remember the first car was a green Jaguar XK 120. He frequently tried to get me to work on the cars with him. I tried, but I got bored quickly and went back to playing baseball.

Looking back now, I can say that while I was passionate about playing baseball, hunting, fishing and working on cars together are father-son experiences we could have shared for a lifetime. I missed an opportunity.

Even though I never gave him the chance to teach me to be an artist, I believe my dad unknowingly taught me about art and drawing in a way that made me a better lawyer, and that is the point I want for you to get from this post.

Seth Godin talks about making art. He says it has three elements:

  1. Art is made by a human being.
  2. Art is created to have an impact, to change someone else.
  3. Art is a gift. You can sell the souvenir, the canvas, the recording… but the idea itself is free, and the generosity is a critical part of making art.

In his book, A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future, Daniel Pink describes taking a week-long drawing class and being taught that drawing is about seeing relationships between positive space and negative space, light and shadow, angles and proportions.

In a  blog posted a few years ago, Pencil as a Power Tool Daniel Pink talked about drawing again. He said drawing:

is a terrific way to develop the aptitude of Symphony, the ability to put together seemingly unrelated pieces to create something new.

Through his art, my dad taught me to see things others did not see. I became a successful lawyer in large part because I anticipated what would impact my clients.  Then I wrote about and gave presentations.

One small example was when I anticipated highway construction would be changed forever by the move from awarding contracts to the low bidder to design-build, and public-private financing. I started writing about it in the 90s.

I had the aptitude of Symphony. Lawyers I coached  heard me suggest many times to:

  1. Identify a client problem, opportunity or change before the client does
  2. Create a remarkable solution
  3. Give it away

That is what making art as a lawyer is all about. If you are not making art, consider taking a drawing class or a photography class and focus on relationships of things to other things. Then, diligently read business news and industry publications.

Are you making art as a lawyer? If so, you can become a valuable resource for any law firm. I would love to help you find the right firm.

Oh, one more thing: If your father is still alive, what experiences are you sharing?

  • Nancy L. Bertolino

    Agree wholeheartedly. Life is art and practicing law is often about solving problems where life has gone awnry. To bridge the gap, you need to understand the people, their connections and the disconnects. It’s really unfortunate that the practice of law has become, for many, simply a money making opportunity.