Meld an enjoyable avocation with your quotidian work-life because mixing business and pleasure has its own benefits, says trial attorney Jeffrey L. Pollock.
By Jeffrey L. Pollock, Lawyer
I have survived a quarter of a century practicing law without getting too much gray hair (yet), no small feat for one who focuses on the stressful areas of domestic law and criminal defense. After 25 years, most as a sole practitioner, I am thrilled to have a modest number of wrinkles (so far). In truth, the explanation for my as-yet ulcer-free existence is a mystery, but I offer the following theory as to my relative good fortune: “Try to like what you do, or at least attempt to meld an enjoyable avocation with your quotidian work-life.” My secret may have been killing two birds with one stone through my volunteer efforts with the combination of letters that make up the ACBA, GPAC, NLSA, VLA, OST, OTR, JCC, UJF, ZOA, YLD, PBI, and so on.
I once told a radio interviewer during a high school musical production that I aspired to become an Entertainment Lawyer, and so I have sought to combine my arts avocation with a legal career. Hence, the opportunity to participate for 13 years in the annual ACBA (Allegheny County Bar Association) Big-Show at our Bench-Bar Conference allowed me to perform on stage while making contacts with lawyers and judges. My good fortune to be introduced to the GPAC (Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council) via my contributions to NLSA (Neighborhood Legal Services Association) early in my solo practice afforded me an outlet to do good while meeting others who shared my commitment to improving the lot of artists in “America’s Most Livable City.” The creation of the VLA (Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts) program has also allowed me to give back to my community while networking with people whom I may work with in the future, either as their counsel or with their partner on stage.
Donating my time to the Board of OST (Open Stage Theatre) and serving as emcee for multiple fashion shows and other charity events enabled me to cross paths with potential clients whose acquaintance I may never have made without having such “pro bono” interests. Being invited for the past six years to rehearse for and perform musical comedy parodies with OTR (Off The Record) each fall, a show that benefits our regional Food Bank, fulfills my constant desire to network while doing good and having fun at the same time. My devotion to “tikkun olam” has inspired me to donate my time as Chair of the JCC (Jewish Community Center) theatre for three years as well as perform in annual meeting skits/shows for the UJF (United Jewish Federation) to raise money for local non-profits and make contacts in the region.
Being the only twice-elected Chair of our YLD (Young Lawyers Division) taught me the benefits of helping students play the role of trial lawyers in Moot Court competitions and imbued me with the spirit to emcee bingo games for senior citizens in personal care homes for the United Way on its “Day of Giving” (in part resulting in my being named the “Outstanding Young Lawyer for Service to the Public in 1999” and lead our county to win national awards for Service to the Bar and Service to the Public). My desire to help Israel and enhance its reputation allowed me to hone my singing skills by performing and leading the Star Spangled Banner and Hatikvah at various ZOA (Zionist Organization of America), JFilm, and Israel Bonds gatherings.
Having to earn at least 12 CLE credits each year motivated me to accomplish two things at once by volunteering to portray attorneys, judges, expert witnesses, or litigants in PBI (Pennsylvania Bar Institute) vignettes. Wanting to learn more about 501(c)(3) companies so I could help clients with their non-profit corporate law matters moved me to volunteer on several Gelatin Slide and Bachelor Auction events for LLS (Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, on whose Board I was honored to sit) and to co-create two Bachelor-Bachelorette Auctions for the SO (Special Olympics) fundraising efforts.
Part of the reason for my history of volunteerism was to rationalize my acting hobby to parents who always wanted me to focus on more cerebral pursuits, justifying the Ivy League education they provided me to become a respected attorney. I hope that I have vindicated myself by explaining that I only do stage and film work to enhance my jury trial skills, not because I actually like doing industrial films and commercials. Just don’t tell my mom and dad that all of these activities have truly been a labor of love.
Jeffrey L. Pollock is a veteran trial attorney, mediator and collaborative attorney practicing law in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His website is: www.jeffreypollocklaw.com