Is it Good to “Think Like a Lawyer”?

I have always been puzzled by the venerable phrase “thinking like a lawyer.” What does it mean and should we take it as a  compliment or a put-down? Anne Marie Slaughter clearly sees it as a compliment: “Thinking like a lawyer is thinking like a human being …who is tolerant, sophisticated, pragmatic, critical, and engaged.” But another commentator, Kevin McKeown,  has a more jaundiced view: “You’re  thinking like a lawyer when you “make distinctions that do not make a difference to most people.” I think the idea is  best captured by a metaphor trial lawyers sometimes  use to describe the craft of a colleague they especially admire or an adversary they fear — he or she can “see out the front.”  It means the ability to look over a complex legal situation and manage its resolution to your client’s advantage.  Everyone knows that a competent lawyer must  know …

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