May 14, 2012
-- Lawyers have been called many names, but “playful,”
“silly,” and “fun” will soon be added to the list. This is in no small part to a relatively new program where lawyers can earn their mandatory Continuing Legal Education credits by learning about improvisation as a tool in communication, public speaking, negotiation and a range of other skills that overlap between the improv performer and the attorney. By playing the warm-up games of improv, attorneys are able to cross-train their minds and sharpen the skills common to both professions.
In 2009, Tommy Galan was a comedian who happened to be in his eighth year of running his own law firm. He wanted to pursue his passion in comedy without turning his back on his legal education; ergo, “Improv(ed)
Legal Skills” was born. Tommy brought the program to former Saturday Night Live writer, Ali Farahnakian of The Peoples Improv Theater in NYC and the chemistry was instant. As a result of this meeting, The PIT began to offer the program as part of its extensive improv curriculum and Tommy sold his law firm so he could dedicate himself to manage the course. He is now the Director of Corporate Programming at The PIT where “Improv(ed)
Legal Skills” is taught along with a catalogue of other corporate and business courses and workshops that use improvisation as a vehicle to deliver skills of the performer to non-actors.
And it is catching on! It was “relevant, engaging, fun, informative and exciting,” says Mathew Schneider, Esq. of Proskauer Rose. In 2012, “Improv(ed)
Legal Skills” was recorded by ALM Media and will be transformed into a Continuing Legal Education download on CLECenter.com where it will be made available to attorneys across the United States. Negotiations are currently underway for a Canadian version to be recorded at the end of 2012, and organizations including Barnes and Nobles Legal Department and the New York City Law Department have commissioned Tommy Galan to share the secrets and benefits of improvisation with their members.
The mission, while ambitious, is to change the public perception of lawyers by giving them improv tools to add to their practice skills. Improv relies on effective communication, listening skills, and compassion along with the skills of performance, presentation, public speaking, and acceptance through the concept of “Yes, and.” Tommy, Ali and The PIT believe that lawyers have the unique opportunity to better connect with their clients, juries, judges, co-workers and even adversaries by studying improv and its connection with the practice of law.
If you would like more information about this topic, or to schedule an interview with
Ali Farahnakian or Tommy Galan, please call Tommy Galan at The Peoples Improv Theater at 212-563-7488 or email Tommy@ThePIT-