Lawghter with Sean Carter

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   LAW STAR                                                                                       1. 800.973.1177

                           Lawghter with Sean Carter
                           [by Amy E. Wong]
                           Sean Carter is the innovator of a hot new trend called “comedic legal education.” This is Carter’s play on the
                           acronym, CLE, that usually signifies continuing legal education, courses/seminars that attorneys are required
                           to take in order to remain in good standing with their local bar associations.

It’s a tough gig to impress a crowd of            He graduated from Harvard Law School; was          a day during the start of his new writing
lawyers, but Carter is handling the challenge     hired at a firm in Boston; and then secured a      career. He tried writing funny columns, but
quite successfully. Associations and law          position at a major law firm in Los Angeles,       was rejected.
firms are increasingly opting out of boring       Heller Ehrman, for more than two years. His
and dry legal education classes and turning       experience at Heller Ehrman changed his            Carter said, “I had to figure out another way
to Carter to satisfy their required legal         life.                                              to do this.”
education classes. As 40 states require
                                                                                                     In September 2002, Carter published his first
their licensed attorneys to take an annual        Carter joined the Lawyers Basketball League
                                                                                                     book, the critically acclaimed If It Does Not
legal education class, Carter has a wide and      and played on Heller Ehrman’s team, the
                                                  Heller Hornets. He composed emails for
                                                                                                     Fit, Must You Acquit? Your Humorous Guide
growing audience.
                                                  his firm, apprising everybody of the games’
                                                                                                     to the Law.
Although Carter’s early lectures had              outcomes. Carter recollected, “The first
                                                                                                     His major break came when he wrote an
his audience roaring with laughter, CLE           email had a couple of jokes; and as they
                                                                                                     article about a Supreme Court case and
organizers were more skeptical, worrying          progressed, these emails became more
                                                                                                     added in the byline that he was a lawyer.
that the program would be more entertaining       elaborate, with pictures and everything.”
                                                                                                     Suddenly, his weekly humor columns started
than informative. However, Bill Corbett,
                                                                                                     getting published in papers across the
Executive Director of the Louisiana               Heller Ehrman’s partners—who were also
                                                                                                     country, making their way to publications
Association of Defense Counsel, seems to          recipients of these emails—approached
                                                                                                     such as The National Law Journal and
think that humor enhances the learning            Carter, pulled him aside, and asked him to
                                                                                                     websites such as Although
process. In a recent press release, Corbett       seriously reconsider being a lawyer.
                                                                                                     Carter struggled in his new profession, he
said, “Carter’s review of the Supreme Court
                                                  Carter recalled fondly, “They came up to           gradually earned a reputation as a frank and
term was one of the most entertaining, and
                                                  me and said, ‘You are so much better at this       funny legal commentator.
yet informative, CLE presentations I have
heard.”                                           [comedic writing] than you are at being a
                                                                                                     Carter was persistent in pursuing a career
                                                  lawyer. It’s clear that you have another talent
The response to Carter’s Comedic Legal                                                               as a stand-up comedian. One gig thoroughly
                                                  other than law.’” He continued with a sudden
Education program has been so positive that                                                          surprised him. Carter was offered $,500—
                                                  laugh, “They were very supportive. They even
clients across the country are booking him                                                           an amount far greater than what he was
                                                  bought me books on how to start a career as
for his famous speeches. This year alone,                                                            usually paid—to entertain law students.
                                                  a writer.”
Carter will conduct more than 00 seminars.
                                                                                                     Carter recalled thinking, “If [law students]
In the past, he has spoken to law firms such      In 2000, Carter started working as an in-
                                                                                                     were willing to pay $,500, what would law
as Akin Gump and Fisher & Phillips and            house attorney at New Century Financial
                                                                                                     firms and legal departments pay?” Carter
corporations such as Xerox and Taco Bell.         Corporation in Irvine. During his free time
                                                                                                     continued, “From then on, it was simple. I’ll
                                                  in 200, he began moonlighting as a comic,
The path to success has been a long,                                                                 start working at bar associations. I would be
                                                  frequently performing at local clubs in the
winding, and—to say the least—wacky road                                                             the only one; there’s money in the market; no
                                                  Los Angeles area. He soon found that the
for Carter. When Carter was growing up, his                                                          one else was doing it.”
                                                  pay, which was miniscule, was not enough to
parents offered him three career options:         support his wife and two kids.
Be a lawyer, a doctor, or the black sheep of                                                         At first glance, it seems unconventional for
the family. He chose to be a lawyer and was       Concurrently, Carter became a prolific and         law firms to hire comedians; but Carter’s
unwavering in his focus.                          dedicated writer, churning out an article          programs are informative, perceptive, and

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   LAW STAR                                                                                     1. 800.973.1177

relevant to the legal world. Along with his        when Carter said, “At two in the morning, I       It will be very interesting to see what other
extensive legal background and wicked              thought, ‘I got to get to Alaska.’” For Carter,   surprises this adventurous Renaissance man
wit, Sean’s new career as a “comedic legal         being a humorous lawyer is more than a            has in store for the legal world. Carter’s
educator” has catapulted him forward.              tactical career shift; it is an adventure.        next venture? Look for a novel that he terms
Radio-TV Interview Report has already                                                                a fictional comedic legal thriller. Anyone
anointed Carter as “America’s Funniest             In addition to being a comedic legal speaker,     who explains the First Amendment as “the
Lawyer.”                                           Carter is a frequent guest on local television    freedom to pray, bitch, and moan” should be
                                                   programs and talk-radio shows. He was             able to deliver a truly riotous novel.
One of Carter’s personal goals is reaching         previously the special legal commentator for
out to a broader audience. By 2007, Carter         the nationally syndicated radio shows Trip N
wants to speak in all 50 states. In fact, Carter   Tyme and The Ric Bratton Show. He is also the
dreams of it. This became blatantly clear          weekly legal columnist for the ABA e-report.


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