Paul Czech is currently coaching the Cohoes Central School District High School Trial Team. Currently the team is in 3rd place in their region on the heels of a recent win and they now advance to the Semi finals to be held next week at Albany Family Court.
Paul Czech recently sat as a panelist for a Symposium discussion on Intellectual Property hosted by the Albany Law School Intellectual Propery Society. The topic for discussion was the Music Industry, Now and Into the Future.
Paul Czech was recently a guest lecturer at Albany Law School. He was invited by Professor A. Kahler to speak to her Intellectual Property class. Paul educated the class on copyright and copyright infringment cases from a practitioner’s perspective utilizing the Harrisongs cases and its progeny to highlight the discussions.
Filed under: General — Paul Czech & Associates @ 10:47 am
Paul A. Czech was invited to be a speaker at this year’s Annual South by Southwest Music Conference held in Austin Texas. Mr. Czech was asked on behalf of the International Association of Entertainment Lawyers to speak on a panel entitled Three Strikes and You’re Out: The ISP Debate.
I went to Temple University in Philadelphia to study law. I’m pretty proud of that – it’s a very good law school and it’s as well known for its incredible professors as it is for its aggressive approach to training lawyers the fine art of trying a case. That is, they train litigators. Their Mock Trial competition team is always winning national championships and has done so for the last twenty or so years consecutively, maybe longer. That’s a pretty good record. Now don’t get me wrong – I am not saying that I was a part of my law school trial team because I was not. I had enough on my plate just keeping up with the reading and focusing on the curriculum that would eventually bring me my law degree. But those are the roots of my training. I spent my entire second year of law school not only taking a full load of 2L classes but going through mock trial after mock trial with my fellow classmates as we figured out how to integrate the strange and cumbersome laws of evidence and the burdensome and tricky rules of professional responsibility with the reality of simply knowing when to stand up or sit down in the court room. Yes, that’s right, we actually practice that.
Yet no matter how much you practice, moving around a court room as the lawyer who is in charge of a case is a very tricky thing indeed. For one thing, the pressure on a lawyer is immense. A good reason for that, particularly with newbie lawyers, is the fact that there are so many things that you are not taught in law school. Another reason is the responsibility you have to your client. If you are handling a criminal matter then you have the responsibility of keeping your client out of jail. If you’re the prosecutor, your job is to keep the streets safe. Either way, that’s quite a lot to take on. I can assure you it is not a good feeling to watch your client get taken away in handcuffs when just moments before, because of what you did for them (or didn’t do), their civil liberties were stripped away and they are now going to be bars. If you’re the prosecutor and a criminal is set free when you loose your case, you feel the responsibility of not having made the streets safer that day. Civil cases are no better. You don’t have someone’s liberty in your hands. That’s the good news. But you can never underestimate the pressure put on you when someone is expecting you to make them money. I make no bones about it – never have, never will – in general, the reason you go to an attorney to pursue a civil case on your behalf is to get money. So imagine what it’s like when you can’t get money for the person who hired you. I like to remind people that that at trial, one side always wins and one side always looses. Even the best lawyers end up on the loosing side a fair amount of the time. And no matter how many times you loose, it never feels better.
Another thing that makes trial work tricky for lots of lawyers is the fact that some of them, most of them, progress through their schooling from beginning to end without stopping. In other words, they go from grade school to high school to college to law school without taking a breath in between. The only work experience they get, if they get any at all, would be from summer jobs which, for the most part, do not give them the necessary life experiences that they need to be successful litigators and trial attorneys. We are supposed to be “counselors” after all – how can you counsel someone if you can’t relate to them or the problems they are facing?
Given all of the above, it’s no wonder that lawyers frequently seem grumpy or curt. It’s called being under the gun. But still, despite all this pressure to succeed on behalf of our clients, we never let it show when we are standing before the Judge. Never. I deliberately dress very casually when I’m in my office and when I meet with clients. Most lawyers wear a suit and a tie all the time, which is just fine, because that’s how people expect lawyers to dress. I dress casually in my office because I don’t want the clients I work with to be intimidated by me – I think it’s important to dress more like they do so they feel more comfortable working with me. But I’d never do that in Court. I always wear a suit. On the occasions when I’ve worn a sport jacket and tie, believe it or not, I’ve felt underdressed for the court room. I’m always as polite as I can possibly be, particularly when I’m trying a case in front of a jury. I personally believe that the juries I go before are judging me as much as they are the case that I’m presenting to them so I’m always on my best behavior in court. That not only means dressing appropriately, it means addressing people correctly. I don’t refer to the person wearing the black robe as “Judge”. Rather, they are “Your Honor” or, at the very least, “M’am” or “Sir”. I believe that by sticking to the formalities and the protocols of the courtroom I am showing my respect for that environment which is something that we should always, always do. I’ve even made it a habit to ask to be excused when I’m finished with my business before the Court and then, as I’m leaving, I wish the judge a good night or day or a good holiday or a safe trip home. Whatever. It’s just polite and friendly. It brings a human element to something that is very often officious and bureaucratic. I think following these rules makes it so people are more interested in listening to me which means I have a better chance of winning my case.
After all, as my mother always said, “you catch more flies with sugar than with vinegar.”
-Paul Czech, Esq.
March Edition of Rensselaer ‘Our Towne’ magazine