Faegre Baker Daniels LLP (MN)Foster Critical Thinking
They Taught the Law and the Law Won
(Photo credit: Brandi Freitas)
How many lawyers does it take to put on a show? The Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis is putting that question to the test, teaching law professionals the importance of being a “performer” and how it translates back to the workplace.
The Guthrie Theater has been an active proponent of arts-based training—staff development programs delivered using the arts, such as painting, dance, or in The Guthrie’s case, theater. The Guthrie’s Continuing Legal Education (CLE) program is one such arts-based training program that the theater provides, combining resources from the actor’s toolbox with classes that touch widely into the fields of business and law.
For many lawyers, CLE is an annual obligation evoking long-winded days spent in uninspired classrooms. The Guthrie, however, seeks to deliver CLE to attorneys in innovative and engaging ways. With both live and online offerings in partnership with ShowCourse (headed by attorney and actor Chris Carlson), The Guthrie’s CLE courses address abstract legal issues through staged readings of scenes from plays and actual legal transcripts.
“More than 3,000 people in the legal profession have taken our courses,” comments Carlson. “We’ve received responses that they’ve been blown away in terms of interest and engagement in what is often considered compulsory education. The experience goes from negative or neutral to positive and energizing, which has a very positive impact on workplace culture and a range of skill sets moving forward.”
One particular Guthrie CLE offering, Taking Center Stage: Issues, Techniques and Ethical Pitfalls of Winning Legal ‘Performances’, is a course based on the fundamental premise that professionals from diverse disciplines—attorneys and actors, for example—spend their careers immersed in the art of storytelling. Through the use of training tools and viewpoints commonly thought to be exclusive to the theater arts, such as scene study and improvisation, attorneys are given concrete strategies for increased effectiveness in their particular area of law.
Faegre Baker Daniels LLP, a general litigation and wealth management firm serving the greater Minneapolis area, is an active participant in The Guthrie’s CLE program. Partner John Gordon comments, “Guthrie’s Continuing Legal Education combines the art of theater with the profession of law in a way that is insightful, profound, and practical. Lawyers can learn about themselves, their clients, and their profession in a way they are unable to achieve with other providers of legal education.”
Intersecting the arts and law offers opportunities for growth and mutual enhancement for those in both fields. From classes and symposiums to engaging in ongoing dialogue with business professionals, The Guthrie’s efforts continue to search for, and find, the best practices for executing arts-based learning in the Minneapolis community.
For more information on CLE and other arts-based training programs at The Guthrie Theater, visit guthrietheater.org/education.