Confession. I’ve had these conversations with other students at various levels of schooling. Kindergarten. College. Law School. It’s always the same:
“I write better when I have a little to drink” or “I study better with beer” or “Five shots equals five cite checks” or ”I learn the alphabet faster when I have a bit of gin”
LOL! Yes. Don’t deny it. We all “L.O.L.”
And then after we “L.O.L”, we slink off to our apartments to drink and write papers, isolated, cold, shivering, and alone.
As it turns out, a new study (and we know we can always trust new studies), shows that drinking has a correlation to creative problem solving. Professor Fruehwald, with yet another interesting post, highlights the good stuff:
“Lead author Professor Jennifer Wiley of the University of Illinois at Chicago discovered that alcohol may enhance creativity problem solving by reducing the mind’s working memory capacity, which is the ability to concentrate on something in particular.” “Research from thecurrent study published in the journal Consciousness and Cognition also found that people who drank alcohol and had a blood alcohol level of 0.07 or higher were worse at completing problems that required attentional control but better at creative problem solving tests.” “The surprising discovery was that participants with a BAC of 0.07 or higher solved 40 percent more problems than their sober counterparts and took 12 seconds to complete the tasks compared to 15.5 seconds by teetotal participants.” “Wiley said that the key finding was that being too focused can blind a person to novel possibilities and a broader, more flexible state of attention may be helpful for creative solutions to emerge.”
What?! So, we students joking around and secretly sipping a glass of wine while completing our memos and briefs were right all along? Well, let’s not go too far. The study also says sleep creates just as much creative solution making as drunking. Ahem, I meant drinking.
Further, excessive drinking, as we all know by now (and likely not just through PSA announcements), usually leads to at best, an honorable challenge to one’s liver (“We shall duel! Take that liver!”) and at worst, to a complete waste of a day in hangover hell (see The Hangover, a movie documentary, providing a critical look into the real possibilities of drinking heavily while in Vegas for a bachelor party). The wine that just spilled onto my keyboard may have confused the “at worst” and “at best” in the preceding sentence. Mea Culpa.
For law students, however, are creative problem solving skills the types of skills that we’re really being asked to develop as students? In your classes, do your professors ask you to “think outside of the box”, “be creative”, “innovate”, “drink wine” and “take risks”?
“Oh Captain! My Captain!”
Of course not! That’s for business students, right? We, law students, extreme risk-averse makers, are trained to be black letter law, precedent-praising, anxiety-ridden creatures, trained to stay in that box.
Serious questions here, as I sip a bit of wine while writing this:
- Should law students learn to be more creative?
- Do clients feel frustrated at lawyers who have been trained to slavishly adhere to precedent?
- Should law schools train law students to create value through innovation and solve problems for clients through creative thinking?
My Argumentative Argument:
Even with the need to be risk averse and rely on precedent, law students can also learn to be creative in order to get better results. Our future clients want us to protect them but also need us to help support their creative ideas with creative lawyering. Therefore, our schools and our professors should start to offer courses and use teaching methodologies that encourage our ability to be creative problem solvers.
Defend your honor, Sir!
And now, challenge me! A duel you say? Let me drink a glass of wine first though, so I can open my mind to alternatives to present to you before you try to stab me with your trusty sword.
“Aha! But, I just pretended to be left handed! Take that!”