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Ten Mostly Law-Related TED Talks Worth Listening To

By William Peacock, Esq. on June 14, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

When was the last time you heard a truly inspirational, intellectual talk? We’re talking about one of those lectures, talks, or speeches that makes you reevaluate your entire thought process on a certain subject. Maybe that talk shifts your views on a fundamental issue, like the death penalty. Or maybe it provides practical advice for leading your law firm or practice group into prosperity.

When we were students, we’d be limited to school-selected speakers, leaving us asleep and drooling on the desk. Even in practice, how often do you get to hear one of this brilliant minds illuminate a topic? Once a year? Twice?

How about on-demand? If you haven't discovered TED yet, it is a non-profit organization dedicated to one thing: spreading inspirational ideas. We love the TED mobile app (Android and iOS), but if you abhor smartphones, the talks are available online as well. Here are ten selections, from our favorites to suggestions from social media.

Simon Sinek: How great leaders inspire action

With more than 11,000,000 views, this is an obvious choice, but it is also a personal favorite. Sinek asks a simple question: "Why?" Why do people follow great leaders? Do we follow the leader because of the underlying plan, or because of the leader's underlying principles?

Rob Reid: The $8 billion iPod

A short, humorous, and very popular discussion of the math used by entertainment industry lawyers and lobbyists.

Bryan Stevenson: We need to talk about an injustice

Human rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson discusses imbalances within the justice system, specifically the intersection of race, poverty, mass incarceration, and disenfranchisement.

David R. Dow: Lessons from death row inmates

The death penalty is evil. The death penalty is a necessary evil. No matter your take, there is one thing we can all agree on: death, or more specifically, murder, is evil. Dow, who has represented over 100 death row inmates, discussed ways to prevent murders in the first place.

Scott Fraser: Why eyewitnesses get it wrong

One of the best lessons from modern psychology is that eyewitness testimony, for the most part, is disturbingly inaccurate. Fraser discusses the science and psychology behind constructed memories.

If you're a fan of litigation reform, and think that it is a shame that doctors, teachers, and other professionals work in fear of sharks in suits, this talk is for you.

Legalese is a disease. Siegel argues that the obvious cure, using plain English, is necessary. We'd disagree. After all, that would defeat the purpose of lawyers and law blogs, wouldn't it?

Lawrence Lessig: We the People, and the Republic we must reclaim, Re-examining the remix, Laws that choke creativity

The legal scholar behind the Creative Commons license gives three talks dealing with (respectively), special interests' influence in Congress, partisan politics and copyright law, and a return to a legal and creative system based on creativity - not profit from "creative" works.

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