Monday, February 6, 2012
WHAT DO LAWYERS AND AUTHORS HAVE IN COMMON?
While I was preparing my non-fiction trial guide, SEE YOU IN COURT! for publication, it came to me that it was a good reference work for writing fictitious court scenes. It is full of nuances and quirks that could lend credence to a narrative. And that got me to wondering what, if anything, lawyers and authors have in common. Go to the mystery and thriller section of a bookstore (if you can find one of those) and you will see that a lot of authors are actually lawyers who write novels. I came to the conclusion that there must be something they have in common. But what?
Of course, they both need to know how to write. But what you write about and the forms that you use to convey your message are completely different. To begin with, lawyers tend to want to tell. And they use funny words you could never get by with in a novel; words like “notwithstanding” and “submit” (not the kinky kind) “quash” and “subsequent.” Authors like to show and be omniscient. Sometimes they don’t even write sentences, or whole ones. You’d never get away with that in a legal brief. So, “no” authors and lawyers don’t really have writing in common.
Unless they’re extraordinarily successful, authors don’t dine where lawyers do. They don’t go business class. And they don’t usually dress in suits. Authors often need day jobs. Authors sometimes need lawyers. Lawyers rarely need authors. Lawyers practice civil or criminal law. Authors are civil or uncivil. Lawyers need a license to practice. Authors have license.