Lawyers and Literature
James R. Elkins


Exercise 2-1 | Reading Lawyer Stories

We begin a story with questions:

What is this story all about? What happens to the lawyer in this story? What does this story have to say about the lives lawyers lead?

How does the fact that the protagonist in the story is a lawyer situate her in the larger world in which she is trying to live?

What kind of demands does this story make on you as a reader?

How does the story speak to the life you are trying to live or want to live?

A second set of questions:

How do we, or can we, or should we, attempt to learn about ourselves as lawyers from "fiction"? In what sense do fictional stories of lawyers "educate" us as lawyers? How is one to read, seriously and critically, stories about lawyers that are offered to us as "fiction"?

Does your view of a "fictional" work change when you learn that the author is a lawyer?

As a reader, what kind of skills do you need to engage in a meaningful reading of a story?

How can a story you dislike or do not find engaging be meaningful? How can a story be meaningful if you "like" it and it confirms what you already know and believe about yourself and your world?

Choose a story you find difficult to read. Is it possible to learn something about yourself as a reader from the difficulties you experience as a reader?

What do you bring to each of the stories as a reader that makes your reading meaningful? Worthwhile? Hopeful? Instructive? Threatening? How does your reading (and your understanding) of your own life and social relations help (and hinder) your reading of a story? [What You Bring With You]

In what sense are our own lives works of fiction?

Is it possible to read ourselves the way we read other "texts"? Is there a connection between reading and self-knowledge?


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