Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Little Haimish Get-together At Next Dor

Programming at Next Dor officially kicked off last night with a conversation with Bob Gershen and Jan Miller, hosted by JGrads and the Jewish law society.

What did you miss?

Haimish is defined as informal and relaxed by the Jewish English Lexicon and is probably a good way to describe Next Dor's first program.

Bob started off talking about how he used his experience as an actor to create presentations for lawyers to improve their courtrooms presentation skills. After hearing about a woman in Florida who taught acting skills to lawyers, Bob developed a seminar which he taught to LA County prosecutors.

He moved back to St. Louis, figuring that the connections he had would let him really hit the ground running, but he found that trial consulting wasn't as accepted in St. Louis as it was elsewhere. It took four years of travelling around the country gaining experience before he found demand for his skills in the St. Louis market. As Bob put it, "new ideas come to St. Louis last".

Bob spoke about how testifying is often a frustrating experience for witnesses, partially because it violates nearly every rule of conversation etiquette because there are so many constraints on what you can say and when you can say it. What Bob often does is to work with lawyers and witnesses on preparing them for the process of testifying.

Jan worked for the Department of Justice, which he says is "bar none, the best place to gain experience". He talked about the transition from working for the government as a prosecutor to being a client lawyer in private practice. Ultimately in private practice, you have to answer to the client, who may not always be correct.

Jan recommends that those who want to become litigators start with a smaller firm. He started at a firm in NYC and ended up spending most of his time in the library, until he made the move to Boston, where he was able to gain more hands-on experience.

The event was well received by the participants and JGrads is interested in continuing the series with other local lawyers.

If you know anyone who might be interested in speaking, please have them contact yoni at nextdorstl dot org.

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