Dreams and Legal Practice: 5 Reasons Why Lawyers Should Pay Attention to their Dreams

Everyone dreams.

But, many of us have a hard time remembering our dreams, and an even harder time knowing what to do with the dream fragments we remember.

Legal practitioners especially.

I attribute this to two factors: First, many of us are under-slept and over-caffeinated and therefore have impaired dream recall. Second, since dreams do not consist of “facts”, “rules” and “reasons”, the stuff of our waking life, we may consider dreamwork a trivial pursuit altogether.

This is unfortunate because dreamwork and legal practice have a lot in  common. And, because of these commonalities, legal practitioners could benefit from engaging with their dreams and with the dreams of others.

Can dreamwork improve your legal practice? Maybe.

Here are 5 reasons why legal practitioners should bolster their legal practice with a dreaming one.

  1. Dreamwork improves the dreamer’s ability to consider multiple viewpoints.
  2. Dreamwork improves creative problem-solving skills.
  3. Dreamwork helps the dreamer track their growth.
  4. Dreamwork provides a space to take safe risks.
  5. Dreamwork is great for networking.

You’re intrigued, right? Let me say more.

Dreamwork improves the dreamer’s ability to consider multiple viewpoints.

Many forms of dreamwork involve identifying dream characters (animate and inanimate) and working with those characters by examining the symbols or themes that they evoke. Some forms of dreamwork involve replays of dream plots, engagement with dream characters, and viewing the dream through different lenses. These techniques increase the dreamer’s intuitive dexterity, which can translate into legal practice in waking life. Like dreamworkers, lawyers aim to understand the perspectives, viewpoints and interests of all the parties involved in their matters. A person who has a daily practice of dream interpretation is likely to develop interesting strategies to do so.

Dreamwork improves creative problem-solving skills.

In your dream, you are trapped in a house that has burst into flames despite being underwater. What do you do?

An obvious answer might be: find a door or a window and swim away.

Here are some other answers that might come to mind:

  • Become fireproof, grow gills and relax.
  • Ask the house why it’s so enraged.
  • Change the composition of the water so that it outs the fire.

Dreams are limitless. They do not operate under the same laws that waking life does. Working with dreams can help us take creative approaches to perceived and actual limits in our practice. This is especially true in alternative dispute resolution, where creative problem-solving can assist in avoiding costly litigation.

Dreamwork helps the dreamer track their growth

Dreams teach us things about ourselves and our relationships with others.

This week, a lawyer I admire appeared in a dream fragment:

We are in the lobby of a building waiting to meet with a client. Even though the client is a corporation, the reception area is set up like a kindergarten.

Now that I have recorded this dream, I can refer to it if a situation in my waking life or in the dreamscape bears similar markers. Let’s say, for example, that in a future dream, the reception area is set up like a college graduation, or that instead of appearing with the lawyer, I am with several others, or alone? What if, next time, there is no reception area in the dream anymore and we simply begin the dream in a board room. These changes could be clues leading me to a deeper understanding of my development.

Dreamwork provides a space to take safe risks

Dreams provide excellent opportunities to try new things. If you have ever had an exhilarating dream where you are flying, performing in a musical, falling in (or out) love, or standing up to a pursuer, you know what I mean. Dreams can provide opportunities to respond to rapidly changing events and access new or dormant parts of our personalities in order to respond. Legal practitioners, especially junior ones like me, are constantly facing new situations that cause us pause. Dreamwork can help us try different strategies on for size. These dreams can present worst case scenarios  and feel like nightmares or anxiety dreams. Reframing these dreams as helpers can be a powerful act that can encourage similarly powerful acts in legal practice. For example, a well-timed moment of empathy (or aggression) can be beneficial to your client’s interests.

Dreamwork is great for networking

Dreams are so fun to talk about. Talking about dreams at networking events almost never fails! Most folks have had at least one puzzling dream that they’d be willing to share. A perfect topic to break the ice.

Convinced?

I hope so. In any event, since we all dream, we might as well enjoy the ride, right?

Thanks for reading. Sweet dreams!

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