The law can be dry, does that mean that lawyers are anti-poets?

This question came up in response to a new Elon Musk tweet that asserted, “Laws are on one side, poets on the other.” I think that it’s wrongheaded and under appreciates what lawyerly skill entails.

The best lawyers are often poetic (even if it doesn’t seem that way in certain filings/statements), since skill with the law requires keeping multiple possible meanings in your head at the same time. Just writing a contract requires something that may look like anti-poetry, but the reason is that the drafting lawyer is going through the process of anticipating possible alternative meanings and excluding them.

Poets, too, have to anticipate possible alternative meanings, though they only exclude the ones that disrupt their intent and deliberately import those ambiguous, multiple-meaning phrases that enhance their intent. Likewise, when the lawyer isn’t drafting something precisely, but rather finding the advantage in something already written (often a statute, but it could be a contract previously drafted), it’s to the client’s great advantage for the lawyer to see multiple meanings in single phrases and craft an argument that employs the most favorable meanings rather than the most obvious ones.

Skill with puns and poetry is correlated with skill in the law. If you’ve got puns, poetry, and logic all down, you’ll probably be great.