Cuisinier and Farahvar’s founding partner explains how his interests in stand-up comedy and music help him inside the courtroom.
On being named an outstanding “40 under 40” attorney in Illinois:
It’s definitely great being recognized by your peers. Being a younger attorney, it gave me some credibility with clients. When they see that, they have a greater comfort level with the advice I provide.
On his stand-up career:
I’ve been doing stand-up for three years, and typically I perform at least one show a week, sometimes more. It’s a great outlet for me personally because it puts everything in perspective. When you’ve been practicing law for 15 years, you need something to balance yourself out. For a while it was music for me, but now it’s comedy. It has definitely helped me in communicating better with opposing counsel, judges, and, most importantly, juries. As a comedian, you have to relate to the audience and get them on your side. The same holds true in the courtroom with juries.
It doesn’t always work, though. I had a case where an attorney was very upset that he lost a motion I brought. After the ruling, just outside the courtroom, he threatened to kick my butt. It was so comical to me because of the juxtaposition between the idea that lawyers are supposed to be professional and this attorney with 20 years of experience who was threatening me 40 feet from a bailiff. He later apologized, of course, but it gave me some great material for my act.
On the relationship between music and litigating:
I became a lawyer because I was asked to leave 14 bands that I performed with, which is a nice way of saying I was kicked out of the bands. So I began managing and producing them, helping them obtain bookings, licensing, and other essentials. Being a musician and managing bands requires patience, and it’s detail-oriented. You have to think three steps ahead and plan many months in advance, which is something I do with all of my cases, too.
On his favorite apps:
I like to use LinkedIn and Facebook for all things law-related. I use it to research the parties in the case and, especially, opposing counsel. It humanizes everyone and gives me perspective, which I think is important in law. The job is hard enough as it is, and we’re constantly at each other’s throats during litigation, but when you know the person on the other side shares your love of the Chicago Cubs or a particular band, it makes things go more smoothly. Ultimately, it’s better for the client, too.