Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Differences between Lawyers and Writers

by Jamie Freveletti

A while ago I blogged on my web page about the differences between lawyers and writers. I feel I have some perspective on this, having been both now for a while, as are my fellow bloggers here at the Outfit: David Ellis and Laura Caldwell.

My first conference ever was Bouchercon Chicago. I dutifully paid my fee and had a wonderful time attending panels and wandering the halls, watching the famous writers casually stroll by. In between panels I did what most lawyers do during the day--I went to the nearby Starbucks to get a shot of the caffeine that propelled me through my day. When the evening rolled around I also did what most lawyers do: I headed home to catch a quick bite in order to see the kids, put them to bed, and then begin working again. For the lawyer, billable hours are what you strive for, and those hours must get recorded no matter what else you did that day. No rest for the weary.

Little did I know that the writers were in the hotel bar, having a great time. It would have never occurred to me to go to the bar--if I did, how would I stay sharp enough to bill those late night hours?

The other thing I've noticed is planning. Now, many writers I know are great planners, but they don't engage in it the way lawyers do. Many lawyers plan like extreme athletes: they organize weeks, even months in advance. Writers? Not so much. Arranging lunch during a business trip can be a last minute affair, but it's safe to say if the meal gets arranged the writer will be calm and far less stressed out than their legal counterpart. I've been known to get texts from writers suggesting a quick drink one hour in the future! If that had been a lawyer he would have arranged the drink a week in advance and sent me a link to not only the bar, but reviews and a google map.

But there is one thing that is absolutely the same between the professions--networking. Whether done in the hotel bar or a law firm conference room, meeting others in your profession is still the best way to further your career, make friends in the profession, and learn the ropes. This is an important fact that many people forget--writers and lawyers alike. There is no substitute for that face to face meeting.

And, one other thing--both lawyers and writers can be fascinating company. They're intellectual, smart, curious, and often quite funny. I love hanging out with both. They have a curiosity about what make people tick and most have insightful views into human nature. Perhaps this is why so many lawyers write, and why so many writers are able to make characters in their books leap from the page, but whatever it is, let me just say there is no better way to spend an evening!


Libby Hellmann said...

YOu're right.

There are a number of lawyers whom I find fascinating, fun, and worth spending time with.

Then there are the others. The ones who give the profession a bad name.
I sincerely doubt that when they were starting out they planned to be dishonest, unscrupulous, or sleazy.

What happened?

Jamie Freveletti said...

Yes, some lawyers just lose their way, don't they? Problem is that when writers do they don't hurt others, but lawyers can really mess up the lives of their clients.

Ray Rhamey said...

Jamie, it might interest you to know that in the MMPI (Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory), a psychological measure which can determine one's interests according to matches with answers to 100 questions asked of people in many professions, that one little category of similar professions has just three occupations: Author/Journalist, Advertising "Man", and Lawyer. We are all of very similar personality types.

Jamie Freveletti said...

Ray--That is interesting! Never took that test but I've heard it can be enlightening!