Q&A with Steven Kunzman

Published in 2009 New Jersey Super Lawyers — April 2009

Super Lawyers: When did you decide to be a lawyer?

Steven Kunzman: I'm a third-generation lawyer. My grandfather started practicing law in 1913, and was subsequently joined by three of his brothers, actually. My father joined them whenever that was, I guess in the early '50s, and then I came along.

 

What kind of law do you practice?

Mostly environmental, predominantly environmental litigation, some environmental transactional work. I received a master's of environmental law from Vermont Law School and that's been the largest part of my practice, some toxic exposure cases, mostly in the environmental arena.

 

And you write songs. How does that fit into it?

Being a lawyer and being a songwriter deal with the truth but in very different ways. Lawyering—you try to find the truth through facts. Songwriting—facts are somewhat beside the point.

 

That's interesting. How does the practice of writing feel similar between lawyering and songwriting?

Every word counts. There are only a few of them. And compassion fits into both. As a lawyer you're using compassion with your client. And in songwriting it's really all about your heart and soul.

 

Has songwriting helped you as a lawyer?

It helps me be more open and creative, to try not to be wedded to something that seems to be the standard approach.

 

And you studied with Rosanne Cash?

She taught a course called "The Essence of Songwriting" at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York, which is an institute for holistic studies. It was a magnificent couple of days. She would say, ‘Learn how to use furniture.' She would talk about [how] you have your home—the house is your song—but you need furniture in it to show people, to have some meaning, some depth.

 

I love that. Was it intimidating?

Actually, not really. By halfway through the first day I went, ‘Wow, I guess I am a songwriter. I understand this. I have something to say. I have a unique style.' And everybody's style is OK, you know; there's a difference between Richard Thompson and James Taylor. They're both great, in different ways.

 

Do you have your next album all ready to go?

I have plenty of songs. There's always more in process. It's just a matter of clearing out the logic. Because sitting down to write, it's like meditating. You have to let things go and see what's left.

 

Sounds like you have a lot left.

I hope so (laughs).

 

To buy the album, go to stevekunzman.com.

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