Creative Thinking for Lawyers

Creative Thinkingby Melissa Grau

We’ve all been there. You’re staring at the same case, reading and rereading sections and clauses, looking for a loophole. Or maybe you’re stuck looking at your computer screen, trying to find a solution to an ongoing problem. Any way you approach the problem, it’s not going away.

At these times, when you feel like you’ve hit that wall head on, you need to take a step back and look at all your options. Think creatively. Get out of your head and see the whole picture. When you think creatively and see the world through a new lens, you are able to approach the problem from a different angle.

  1. Learn your mindset and its restrictions. In order to get out of your mind, you first have to learn how it works. Know whether you’re a big picture thinker or a small picture thinker. Do you need to make a flow chart to brainstorm or does jotting things down work better for you? Do you prefer thinking things through beginning to end? Try thinking from the end to the beginning. Whatever your norm, switch it. Expand your mind from thinking one way to thinking another. You’d be surprised the things you learn about yourself and your cases when you approach things with a different mindset.
  2. Schedule creative time. Use this time to explore your creativity through a new outlet, whether it’s learning to play the piano or picking up a paintbrush. Whatever you choose, however, be sure to devote time to your new outlet and honor that commitment. Being in tune with your creative side when you’re off the clock will help you to summon that same creativity when you’re on the clock, working to break through your case’s current roadblock.
  3. Take breaks. Staring at the same view from your desk day after day is mentally exhausting. Give yourself a break to get your creative juices flowing. Take a walk during your lunch or take a phone call outside. Whatever it may be, just switch up your scenery. When you come back and sit down at your desk, ready to take on that same case, you might have recharged your brain just enough to find a solution.
  4. Revamp and reuse. Take a look at the systems and processes in place around you. What factors come into play? How do they fulfill their purpose? Apply these same principles to the problems facing you. Take a system and revamp it to meet your needs, finding a solution and moving forward. The trick to this tip, however, is being able to transfer the concept of one entity to a completely different entity. This forces your mind to think out of the box solving a problem in an abstract way. Try applying this approach to the latest problem within your firm. Maybe you need a new way to bring in clients. Review other industries’ systems. Maybe you need a stronger platform for your social media outlets. Look at how Apple markets their products. Whatever it may be, the solution to a problem is never far off and often right in front of you.
  5. Brainstorm. The best ideas frequently come from a group setting. This way, each idea has been critiqued from every angle by a plethora of different minds. Dynamic groups are able to bounce ideas off one another, building and rebuilding until the perfect model is created. Use this tactic to your advantage. Form a group of colleagues to brainstorm solutions with you. Compile a list and then go through each proposed item and discuss the pros and cons, possible shortcomings, and the expected results. It’s amazing how the combined power of multiple minds can result in an extraordinary idea.

Any way you try and solve a problem, the end result ultimately depends on you. The outcome depends on how you approach a situation, the way you think about the situation, and even the way you interpret the situation. Keeping these three major components in mind will make your life notably easier when using creative thinking to problem solve. Always remember that the solution, more often than not, is right in front of you; however, it’s your mindset that is preventing you from seeing it. I wish you the best of luck in cultivating your creative thinking skills!

If you are interested in receiving one-on-one support, email us at info@esquirecoaching.com for a complimentary consultation. Don’t forget to share your progress on the Esquire Coaching Facebook page as well as LinkedIn. Tweet @EsquireCoaching your own personal tips on how you apply creative thinking to life as a lawyer! I look forward to hearing from you!

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