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A Law School Graduate’s Puzzling Career Choice

Lawyers and puzzles fit together well. The practice of law is all about problem solving. It makes perfect sense to have logic games on the LSAT (despite the hatred that many of you might have for them).

So perhaps it won’t surprise you to learn that a king of the crossword puzzle world is a lawyer by training. Where did he go to law school, and why? And how did he make the jump from the legal profession to puzzles?

If you have even a passing familiarity with the world of crossword puzzles, you’re familiar with the work of Will Shortz. He has served as the crossword puzzle editor of the New York Times since 1993, and he is also the founder of the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. He explains why he went to UVA Law School, how he wound up in his current job, and how he selects and edits the puzzles that run in the Times, in this interview with Spencer Mazyck of Bloomberg Law:

Interesting! Although I knew about the puzzles getting more difficult as the week progresses, I did not know the deal with the Sunday puzzle. I also did not know how many submissions the Times gets each week and how much it pays. Given what the Times pays and how long it takes to construct a puzzle, writing a puzzle for them strikes me as a labor of love.

It’s great that Shortz didn’t have to resort to his fallback plan of working in law so he could retire early and work on puzzles. If he had gone into practice, the crossword puzzle world might still be waiting for him.

Congrats to Will Shortz on his unique and interesting career. I think most of us would agree: being able to make a living by doing something that you enjoy spells S-U-C-C-E-S-S.

P.S. Some of you may have noticed that this interview was recorded some time ago. Due to a last-minute cancellation by a guest, our friends at Bloomberg Law were unable to record a new interview this week, but they directed us to this favorite from their archives.

Stealth Lawyer: Will Shortz, NYT Crossword Editor [Bloomberg Law via YouTube]

Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of career alternatives for attorneys

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