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Question of the Week

Has familiarity with Shakespeare helped you as a lawyer?

Posted Apr 23, 2014 2:50 PM CDT
By Sarah Mui

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Playwright William Shakespeare's 1564 birthdate is unknown, "but devotees have adopted April 23 as the day to celebrate—and this year, the man from Stratford turns 450," NPR reports.

Even after all this time, lawyers never go too long without Shakespeare entering the conversation. Just last month, University of Washington law prof Karen Boxx published an article explaining why she uses King Lear in her trusts and estates class.

"King Lear is the archetypal story of the tension an difficulties in parent-child and sibling relationships," Boxx wrote. "In a trusts and estates class, it reinforces the message that those relationships are the starting point and bedrock of this body of law and the vast system of rules that has been developed to resolve these conflicts."

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We love Shakespeare at the ABA. Here are just a few ways we've given the nod to the Stratford Bard:

• Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice was judged to be one of the greatest theater courtroom dramas in a 2012 ABA Journal feature.

At the 2013 ABA Annual Meeting, one popular CLE was "Acting Professionally: A Dramatic Guided Tour to the Perceptions of Law as a Profession as Shown in the Plays of William Shakespeare and How Ethical and Professional Conduct Will Improve Upon Those Perceptions."

• The ABA also publishes Shakespeare for Lawyers: A Practical Guide to Quoting the Bard. You get the picture.

So this week, we'd like to ask you: Has familiarity with Shakespeare helped you as a lawyer? Or at least helped you appreciate great legal writing?

Answer in the comments.

Read the answers to last week's question: What’s the most outrageous thing you’ve heard during opening or closing statements?

Featured answer:

Posted by Health Lawyer: "Two Criminal Defense Moves: 1. In opening statement the defense attorney told the jury that opening statements were not evidence and that the evidence would only consist of testimony from people who sit in this chair, pointing to the witness chair. He then finished his opening while sitting in the witness chair. 2. A defense attorney began his closing by arguing grand principles of democracy, civil rights and patriotism. He then walked over to the flag and said that the flag was his client’s protector and he literally wrapped the flag around himself while making further argument."

Do you have an idea for a future question of the week? If so, contact us.

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