The Music of the Law
Unlike my co-bloggers, I practice law for a living. Like most would-be lawyers my view of practice was powerfully shaped by Law & Order episodes. I do mainly civil and appellate litigation, so my practice contains few trips to Attica, but I did envision the practice of law as being a much more social endeavor. At the very least, I expected there to be some noise. My law firm, however, tends to be a very quiet place. People work in their offices, and if they talk they do so in conference rooms. There is none of the noisy bustle of the Law & Order DA’s office. As it happens, I don’t think well in silence. I find it distracting and unnerving. Even in college, for example, I found it impossible to study economics in the library. The quiet destroyed my concentration, so I always did econ work in the student union cafeteria. At work, I escape the silence by closing my door and playing music, which leads to the important question of which music goes with which tasks.
For document review, I find that I like rock music, especially U2. I think that for the rest of my life the music and lyrics of “One” will be permanently associated with insurance documents in my mind.
If I am doing general legal research — looking on Westlaw for cases or statutes — I find that I like folk music or bluegrass. There is something about the sound of Nanci Griffith or Allison Krauss that I associate with SCT-OLD searches or rummaging around through ALLFEDS.
For more serious research such as close reading of key cases or a careful review of the opposing parties’ briefs I prefer baroque music, in particular Handel or Correlli. At the very least, there is something about the rationalism of Correlli or Bach that just makes me feel more incisive, analytical, and logical.
For writing I find that I do best with either lively folk and blue grass (something about banjo picking gets the words flowing for me), choral music — especially Beethoven or Brahms — or, somewhat inexplicably, the Dave Matthews Band.
Of course these are not hard and fast categories. I have been known to review documents while listening to Handel’s Water Music, and I recently wrote a cert petition while listening to “Joshua Tree” over and over and over again.