Lawrence attorney finds fiction writing suits him just fine

Most of David Brown’s writings are filled with facts and legalese.

He welcomes the chance to create fiction for a change.

“What I find is it’s a matter of time,” the Lawrence attorney says. “You have to block out everything else and just kind of let your mind wander. It’s fun – it’s really fun. But we have two kids, and I have a practice to run. The time to sit back and daydream is somewhat limited.”

Brown, 53, managed enough of that free time recently to write “It Didn’t Add Up,” a short story that will become his first published piece of fiction. It was selected for publication in the March/April issue of The Bencher, the magazine of the American Inns of Court, an organization that promotes professionalism and ethics in the field of law.

“It’s a pretty interesting story; I thought it was pretty good,” says David Carey, the organization’s executive director. “He’s a very personal writer. What I mean by that is it’s obvious he is writing from the heart. We usually write from the client’s perspective.”

The story, which Brown says is completely fictional, centers around Lawrence attorney David Barnes. Barnes is called upon to divide the estate of his mentor and former Kansas University law professor Lucille McGillicuty.

That task includes dividing up McGillicuty’s valuable collection of fountain pens. On the surface, the formula for dividing those pens among McGillicuty’s three nieces doesn’t, as the title infers, add up.

It’s Barnes’ task to figure out what McGillicuty meant in her will.

“The mathematical puzzle in that story has always kind of fascinated me,” Brown says. “It’s a classic kind of brain-teaser: How do you solve this kind of thing?”

Brown, who has lived in Lawrence since 1989, grew up with dreams of writing the great American novel. He was a journalist before going to Albany Law School.

Hear David Brown read an excerpt from his story.

He is now managing attorney for his law firm, practicing family law, including adoption, divorce, child custody and real-estate planning.

Brown has dabbled in poetry and fiction writing on and off through the years, but he’s never had anything accepted for publication. He says he didn’t tell his wife, KU English department lecturer Mary Klayder, he was submitting the work.

Carey, the American Inns of Court director, says many attorneys like to have an outlet for their creativity. The call for fiction entries – the first time the magazine solicited writing other than factual essays about the legal profession – drew around 50 submissions. Carey says three or four short stories and another three or four poems will be published.

“It was amazing, the response we got from all the frustrated writers who came forward with pretty creative stories,” Carey says. “It shows us there are a lot of lawyers who want to let loose and tap into their creative side.”

Brown, a former president of the local Inn of Court chapter, says he’s happy for the honor.

But he’s more excited about bringing attention to the Lawrence legal community – especially because Lawrence resident Deanell Tacha, chief judge of the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, is national president of the American Inns of Court this year.

“This is the first piece of fiction I’ve had published, so I’m pretty excited about it – don’t get me wrong,” Brown says. “But it’s really an effort to draw attention to the efforts the Inn promotes, and to kind of promote our Inn and show folks that Deanell Tacha doesn’t come from the boonies. Kansas really is a viable and creative place.”