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How to be a Non-Lawyer by James O’Loghlin

Apart from being an ABC radio host and an author, James O’Loghlin is also the current artist-in-residence at La Trobe Law School. This weekend, he will be opening the annual ALTA conference at the La Trobe City Campus. For our blog, he decided to unveil all the secrets that make you an excellent non-laywer:

Things I Learnt in Law School that Helped me be a Non-Lawyer

James O’Loghlin

When I was at law school, I thought I was just learning how to become a lawyer. It wasn’t until much later that I realised that poring through all those cases, reading all those judgments and studying for all those exams had taught me skills I would use in every single job I had. For example;

1. Stand-up comedian. Writing and telling jokes uses a different part of the brain to the part that tries to understand tax law, but when I was a comedian, every now and again someone would turn up at a comedy venue to shoot a pilot that they would then try to turn into a TV show. ‘Just sign this,’ they’d say, flashing a piece of paper with lots of words on it. As everyone lined up, I’d say, ‘Wait! Let’s read it first!’ Thank you, ‘Contracts’.

2. Radio Broadcaster. The best interview sounds like an effortless conversation, but interviewers should have a plan and a structure. Legal thinking is very structured. As you study, you learn to think in logical steps and that helped me to plan interviews.

3. Writing Children’s Novels. You learn rigour at law school. Every time you write something, you have to look at it with a critical eye, and make sure that everything you say can be backed up. Now, after I finish writing a story, I always go through it and ask, ‘Will the reader really believe that this could happen? Would that character really behave in that way, or am I just making them behave like that because it helps me with the plot?’

Having said all that, don’t always think like a lawyer! The logical, ordered way in which studying law teaches you to think is often really helpful at work, but sometimes it’s not so good when applied to the rest of your life. For example, being able to win an argument by using cold, hard-headed logic is not a useful skill to bring into a relationship. Don’t argue like a lawyer at home! Secondly, studying law trains you to imagine every possible bad thing that can happen, so that you can then protect your clients from it. Try to prevent that part of your brain from taking over and exerting undue influence over the rest of our life.”

The ALTA conference will take place from the 16th until the 18th of July. To access the full 2015 ALTA program, click here.

See you there!

Marc Trabsky