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Films expand lawyers' horizons

Films expand lawyers' horizons

Chris Freeland Baker & McKenzie

Lawyers have been urged to go to the movies, with a managing partner suggesting artistic cinema can promote innovative problem-solving.

Chris Freeland (pictured), Baker & McKenzie managing partner and chairman of the Sydney Film Festival, said lawyers tend to get stuck in familiar thought patterns.

“As lawyers we think in linear ways,” Mr Freeland said. “We think about solving clients’ problems.”

“One of the things I find is … seeing films expands your mind and helps you think about issues in ways which are not linear.”

On a personal note, Mr Freeland said his involvement in the movie business had helped his practice.

“As chair of the film festival, around the board table we have several people who are filmmakers involved in the film industry,” he said. “They approach issues in a very different way and I find that terrific. Frankly, it makes me a better managing partner.”

Mr Freeland urged more lawyers to support artistic endeavours, citing the value of the arts to Australian society.

“The arts is so important for any civilised society and it's so important for us in Australia. It gives the community the chance to hear stories about Australians by Australians.”

While he acknowledged the philanthropic contributions of Australian lawyers to the arts, he suggested such support was more prevalent in other countries such as the US: “[As lawyers] we're in a privileged position in society and we have a duty to give something back.”

The Sydney Film Festival will run from 3 to 14 June and showcase more than 300 screenings throughout the city and New South Wales.

Mr Freeland pointed to stand-out showings including the opening night debut of Australian film Ruben Guthrie and the same-sex parenting documentary, Gayby Baby.

For lawyers specifically, he suggested Court, a feature about the workings of the Indian criminal justice system.

“It's going to be a fantastic film festival and I think every lawyer in Sydney should check out the program and come along to a film, including a film they might not ordinarily choose to see. It'll expand their horizons and they'll have a fun time.”

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