Discovery with Seth Briskin

A lesson Seth Briskin learned along the way: Never bring a briefcase to a gunfight

Published in 2018 Ohio Super Lawyers — January 2018

I can’t go a day without … music and/or Howard Stern. Whether I am in my office or in my car, one of the two will be on.

If you were in my office, you’d … think I was an alcoholic rock guitar player with a mild attorney habit. In addition to normal lawyer stuff, my bookshelves are lined with 50 high-end bourbons, and my office is “decorated” with an electric guitar, two amps, rock posters and an original Jerry Garcia painting.

My colleagues would be surprised to know that … I helped finance and organize a 3 ½-day jam-band music festival outside Cleveland. 

When I was a newbie lawyer I … learned very early from my mentors that, while it is important to be a good and knowledgeable lawyer, ultimately having meaningful client relationships ensures a great, secure career in law.

The lawyer I most admire is … Lawyer Tillman. A great college and serviceable pro tight end for the Browns. Not as good at cross-examination.

The qualities I most like in a lawyer are … pragmatism and a sense of humor. Zealous advocacy does not have to be about chest-thumping and over-the-top theatrics.

My career high point (so far) has been … I argued and won a Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals case that everyone in the firm (and opposing counsel) thought was a dead loser.

If I weren’t a lawyer, I’d be … a concert promoter. It is a lot like being a labor/employment lawyer—lots of moving pieces/parts and nonstop people issues, just with better access to backstage passes.

When I win a case, I celebrate by … treating myself to a ridiculously overpriced bourbon. That said, I would use the same technique if I lost one—it just hasn’t happened yet. Ha.

The SCOTUS justice I’d like to meet is … Ruth Bader Ginsburg—fellow Cornellian.

I can’t believe more people haven’t read … The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson.

I can do a pretty good impersonation of … Yoda.

The talent I wish I had is … I play very average rhythm guitar. I am in awe of guitar gods like Eric Clapton, Warren Haynes, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Jimmy Herring, Trey Anastasio, Jerry Garcia, Derek Trucks ... etc.

The craziest thing I witnessed was … I was negotiating a union contract with a city police force and I pointed out that most of their job entailed traffic/parking-related issues, so they didn’t really need state-of-the-art armament and body armor. A hot-head policeman across the table flipped out, pulled his gun and pointed it in my face to show me what can happen during a traffic stop. Point made and valuable lesson learned: Never bring a briefcase to a gunfight.

The movie line I quote most often is … From Fletch: “I’ll have a Bloody Mary, a steak sandwich and a steak sandwich, please.” “[I will] put it on the Underhills’ bill.”

My courtroom walk-up music would be … Rage Against the Machine’s “The Renegades of Funk.” If this song doesn’t get you pumped up, you have no cardiovascular system.

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