Improvisation and Collaboration: A Chat with Alex Pergament, U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Career Law Clerk

This week’s episode of Entering the Bar® is with Alex Pergament, a career law clerk at the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Alex, who is New Jersey-based, also moonlights on the side as a musician, photographer, and artist.

On this episode, we chat about improvisation as an “affirmation of faith,” and collaboration in law and in art, as well as how, at its base, both art and law seek to help people “see” better—just in different ways.

We also talk about NaNoWrimo (and the Artist’s Way!), the act of channeling energy through “acts of restriction” (i.e., rules and laws), allowing yourself the freedom to “follow your own muse,” and, in a nod to listening law students, how social norms play into the legal concept of the “reasonable person.”

We also chat about some of Alex’s past and current projects, such as Helga + Carl, a collaborative project exploring the intersection of law and art, as well as his ongoing musical improvisational groups After School Orchestra and Yuuge, and why you should always “trust your own value system” when it comes to creating your own career path in the law.

And of course, since you’re listening to “Entering the Bar,” we talk about the Thirsty Thursday kegs in law school (which is maybe why he enjoyed it so much—just kidding, Alex!).

You can find out more about National Novel Writing Month (“NaNoWrimo”) here; and about Yuuge, here. You can find out more about After School Orchestra, here; watch a video recording of the Orchestra at work in the studio, here (or just listen, here); and listen to the Orchestra’s sister group, After School Activities, here.

The music featured on this week's episode (and all future episodes) is called “Entering the Bar Theme Music,” composed by Sam Carden for Entering the Bar®.

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Puppet Ponies and a Slow Saturday Night: A Conversation with Cara Parmigiani, Attorney-At-Law

On this episode, I speak with Cara Parmigiani, solo practitioner and multi-talented comic book artist, writer, producer, martial arts practitioner—and new mother. (From now on, I’ll simply call call her my “hero lawyer,” clearly!)

We discuss Cara’s ongoing creative venture, called “Pony and Pony: Ponies-at-Law,” about the adventures of Tristan and Pascal, sibling puppet ponies (and proud Seton Hall Law graduates) intent on opening a law practice. Originally a comic, Cara first turned this concept into a short film, then into a webisode called “Pony Radio.” She’s now in the process of transforming it into a musical. (Get your tickets before they’re hot, folks!) Cara and I also chat about how a slow Saturday night inspired the film, how her ponies graduated from law school even before she did (natch!) and how she managed to film an amazing number of webisodes in one day. (Hint: it took a lot of organization, some professorial expertise, and a few puppeteers’ patience—and their forearm strength….)

Cara and I also discuss her decision to open a solo practice—on Labor Day, no less—and its many benefits: from managing a variety of legal matters, to helping triage issues at the outset, to the potential to become close with clients. And, of course, the ultimate benefit: never having a boring day!

As for those interested in opening a solo practice, Cara advises that you shouldn’t “not do something because you’re afraid,” but on the other hand, “don’t commit malpractice!” We discuss the resources out there for those want to follow in her footsteps; the many advantages of a clerkship; and the simple value of attending cases in open court to learn from attorney appearances—both good and bad.

Finally, we chat about the really important stuff: how Cara’s mother was right (hope you’re listening, Cara’s mom!); how Legally Blonde is way more realistic than the Paper Chase (that is, if you want to truly be prepared for law school); and how Seton Hall Law will open a lot of doors—just not any hotel room doors! Plus, the all-important no-drinking-for-24-hours-before-anything-meaningful rule that Cara now has, thanks to Johnny Depp, a hangover, and an infamous hockey game…

You can learn more information about Cara and her practice, here; and about Puppet Ponies, here.

P.S. For those of you with an ear for music, we had a little bit of unintentional accompaniment from the band playing next door…it’s always an experience to record!

P.P.S. And more exciting news! The music featured on this week's episode (and all future episodes) is called “Entering the Bar Theme Music,” composed by Sam Carden for Entering the Bar®.

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Death Metal and Dr. Seuss: A Discussion with Jason Wool, Privacy and Cybersecurity Expert


I had the great pleasure of speaking with Jason Wool, an erudite and witty cybersecurity and privacy lawyer at ZwillGen, a boutique Internet and technology law firm. In this episode, we talk about Jason’s 2018 article on cryptographic hashing, what the heck that is, and how it relates to data breach notification laws. We also chat about his propensity for Disney songs and death metal, and the twist of fate that took Jason from his role in reviewing rate regulation as a “NERC-FERC lawyer” (oh-so-Seussian!) to a cybersecurity and privacy advisor.

And, as always, what we talk about when we talk about lawyers: Jason and I chat about his favorite bar in Adams Morgan, DC (sadly, now closed) and his propensity for putting Steely Dan on the jukebox....

You can find Jason’s article, “Does the Cryptographic Hashing of Passwords Qualify for Statutory Breach Notification Safe Harbor?” published by the Journal of Cyber Law and Warfare, here, and his bio and additional (32 or so!) publications here, and here. (Although he does claim to sing a cappella, I can’t guarantee you can find a recording of him anywhere!)

To read up on some of the other sources Jason references as reading material, you can read up on Steven Levy’s history of cryptography, here, and the article by his friend Andy Greenberg, about scary jeep hacking, here.

The sound featured on this week's episode is courtesy of Freesound.org: “Death Grind,” via a CC0 1.0 license.  

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Hair Science and Hot Doctors: A Conversation with L’Oreal Counsel Andra Dallas, Claims Substantiation, Research & Innovation

Andra is not only a bi-lingual lawyer, but a marathon runner, painter, and fellow podcast enthusiast! In this episode, we chat about everything from her early involvement in privacy law [@13:40] and the considerations of consumer claims testing (read: she gets to hang out in the lab!) [@3:50; 12:30], to a wild post-bar story [@25] and why taking some time off before law school is not a bad idea….. [@23]. You can find more about Andra, her great hair, and her background as a former New York Law adjunct professor and Better Business Bureau attorney here and here

And, not to be missed: Andra gives some timeless advice to law students—and, really, all students [@9:50; 30]. (Note to self: guess I should stop perfuming my resume when applying for a job!)

The music featured on this week's episode is courtesy of the Free Music Archive: Swimming (Swimming) by Ryan Andersen, via a CC BY-NC 4.0 license.  

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“Hard blows but fair blows”: A Conversation with Justin Braun, Bronx ADA

In this episode, I chat with Justin Braun, former “Negatones” band member and current Bronx ADA. We delve into the world of defendants’ appeal rights [@:13], what it means to be innocent versus “not guilty” [@:16], and how one can be creative in trial presentations [@:24]. Hint: a little sound engineering background goes a long way! And be sure to listen to the end—Justin recounts a surprising story about serving on law review back in the ’50’s and 60’s [@:38]. (With a caveat: this story is not about him!)

You can read up more on the "Negatones" on SPIN.com, purchase their music on iTunes, and look up Professor Braun at Cardozo Law. And, like all good lawyers, below is a citation to the Court of Appeals case Justin and I discuss:

[@:2] People v Gray, 2016 NY Slip Op 02476 (Ct App 2016), https://law.justia.com/cases/new-york/court-of-appeals/2016/32.html.

The music featured on this week's episode is courtesy of (obviously!) Justin and his band "The Negatones." 

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Disco-Loving Lawyer-Coder: A Conversation with Rob MacAdam, Director of Legal Solutions at High Q

In this episode, I chat with Rob Macadam, Director of Legal Solutions for High Q and recovering M&A lawyer. We discuss what it takes to leave the law (a little bravery and a lot of chutzpah!) [@:17], his favorite kind of beer (“real ale”) [@:41], and how you, too, can become a "legal geek" and break into the fast-growing legal tech field [@:35]. Along the way, Rob and I compare notes on what it's like to practice in the U.S. versus the U.K. (although he's never worn a wig!) [@:23].

You can follow Rob on Twitter here; find out more about Richard Susskind, whose eye-opening book, Tomorrow's Lawyers, Rob mentions on the show, here; and read more about legal tech associations and conferences here and here.

The music featured on this week's episode is courtesy of the Free Music Archive: Strum (Capture My Heart) by Phish Funk, via a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 International License.  

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"Only a couple of black folks dancing," and Other Copyright Controversies: A Conversation with Barbara Hoffman, Art Law Pioneer

This week's episode is with Barbara Hoffman, a pioneer in the art law field. We talk about everything from the "law of se," to the fair use doctrine, to strippers at the Pierre Hotel, and much more! And like any good lawyer, here are citations to the cases referenced during our chat:

[@5:10] Ringgold v. Black Entertainment Television, Inc., 126 F.3d 70 (2d Cir. 1997);

[@15:28] Agence France Presse v. Morel, No. 10 Civ. 2730 (WHP), 2011 WL 147718 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 14, 2011), No. 10-cv-2730 (AJN), 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 155416 (S.D.N.Y. Nov. 3, 2014); and

[@28:10] Cariou v. Prince, 714 F.3d 694 (2d Cir. 2013).

You can purchase Barbara's book, Art and Cultural Heritage: Law, Policy and Practice (also referenced in our discussion), and read more of her art law publications here.

Note: the introductory music for this week's episode is The Ride of the Valkyries, courtesy of a performance license from the National Park Service, under a public domain composition license.

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NBA Flops, Computer Nerds, and Fax Machines: A Conversation with Benjamin Wright, Data Security Law Expert

In this episode, I chat with Ben Wright, data security law expert and SANS instructor, about his solo practice and its evolution since the 1980's. Along the way, we talk about what it’s like to teach techies (hint: sports analogies help!) and how Ben solves his thorniest legal issues. Prepare to be entertained!

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You can read more about Ben here or read a few of his pieces for his client Netmail (soon to be NetGovern) here, and read up on his current class here.

The introductory music for this week's episode is courtesy of the Free Music Archive: Kai Engel's Walking Barefoot on Grass (Bonus) (Chapter Three/Warm), under a Creative Commons Attribution license.