Does William Shakespeare have a lesson for lawyers?

“It’s a long way from the bar to The Bard.”

Any news story that opens thusly will probably get my attention. And so it was in this article about poetry and the law—brought to you on this Change of Venue Friday.

An Ontario lawyer believes poetry may be the antidote to decades of verbosity in his profession. Though admittedly whimsical, condensing lengthy legal documents into limericks, couplets and other rhymes is proposed as a way of teaching attorneys not to write a symphony where a song would suffice.”

The lawyer is Jordan Furlong, and I immediately liked him, but not just for his literary ambitions for lawyers—he also was the editor of the Canadian Bar Association’s magazine National. Booya for lawyer pubs and the people who helm them!

Reactions to his rhyming notions have been mixed. Read the story here. Still interested? Jordan blogs here.

Jordan Furlong

To hear his pitch for more legal poetry—of the briefer variety—click here to read his story Shall I Compare Thee to a Summary Judgment?” Boy, does that make a litigant swoon!

But why do that at all? He argues that it will help counter lawyers’ tendency toward maddening completeness, which leads to 400-word sentences transparent to no one.

“Ask a lawyer for a tune and she’ll give you a symphony. Ask him for a snack and he’ll bring you a three-course meal.”

So as an exercise, “Have your lawyers share, once a week, a single poetic expression of legal information.”

And yes, he gives some examples. Enjoy.

Finally, as long as we’re Bard-like today, I point you to a video making the rounds. It has performer Jim Meskimen reciting Clarence’s speech from Shakespeare’s Richard III.

Dry stuff, you say? Oh no no no, for he does it as a large number of different celebrities. We’re talking George Clooney to Droopy Dog.

I beseech you: Have a great weekend.

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