April 09, 2009
In an April 1 panel hosted by the Harvard Law School Law and Arts Initiative entitled “Don’t Quit Your Day Job,” several HLS alumni and practicing attorneys discussed how to balance a successful legal career while also working in the arts. Panelists included successful writers and television and film producers.
Annette Gordon-Reed ’84, author of “The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family,” which won a 2008 National Book Award, described how both sides of her work nourish her. A professor of law at New York Law School and history at Rutgers University, she said she advises students seeking to balance creative and professional lives to “forgive” themselves “for not being able to do everything.”
Media lawyer and law professor Cameron Stracher ’87 emphasized the importance of discipline and persistence. His first advice was, “Don’t give up.” Stracher also recalled that while writing his first novel, he got up to write at 4:00 a.m. every morning. The co-director of the law and journalism program at New York Law School, he is the author of several books, including “Double Billing” and “Dinner with Dad.”
Gary Barkin ’93, an entertainment lawyer, added that surrounding yourself with supportive people is important. Together with classmate and lobbyist Marla Grossman ’93, who was also on the panel, Barkin launched a television and film production company called Sidekick Entertainment.
Grossman said that when trying to combine a legal career with one in the arts, one should leave doors open for opportunities with an employer who supports creative work as well as legal work.
Theresa Park ’92, founder of The Park Literary Group and member of the Law and Arts Initiative Executive Committee, and Scott Pomfret, SEC lawyer and author of “Since My Last Confession” and co-author of “The Q Guide to Wine and Cocktails,” also participated in the discussion. The panel was moderated by Amy Gutman ’93, director of alumni communications and special projects at HLS, author of “The Anniversary” and “Equivocal Death” and also a member of the Law and Arts Initiative Executive Committee.
Watch the video of the discussion.