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Why I Made a Change: Jevon Bindman

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From Choir Director to Litigation Attorney: Why I'm Singing a New Tune

I have been a litigation attorney at Maslon for more than six years, but there was a time when a career in law never occurred to me.

After growing up in the Twin Cities, I headed to New York to study music at Cornell University. It was a natural progression—I had sung tenor in multiple high school choirs, played in concert band (flute) and jazz band (saxophone), and I always loved music. It was an important part of my youth: creating something beautiful with a group of friends is so satisfying, and that experience made a great impression on me. I wanted to give that to other kids.

At Cornell, I majored in music, and I went on to get a master's in music from Michigan State. From there, I accepted positions as a middle school and later as a high school choir director.

There were parts of that job that I loved. At the bottom of their hearts, kids just want to please you, and it was fun to create meaningful connections through music. I also taught a music technology course; it was mostly "garage band"—we would set music to videos. One project involved creating a mock TV commercial with music in the background.

Teaching was also very high energy; there was never a dull moment. I would typically lead three or four choirs, as well as a handbell choir, guitar lessons, and extracurriculars such as musicals or solo competitions. But that also made it exhausting. When I taught high school, my prep period was the last period of the day, and I would just collapse into my chair.

My wife was the person who planted the law school seed for me. About 15 years ago, she was studying to take the LSAT, and I took a look at some of the questions in her prep books. I thought, this looks kind of interesting. She never followed that path, but later, when I contemplated a career change, I remembered that spark of interest. I started talking to some of my friends who were lawyers.

A career in law seemed like it might be a good fit for me, not only based on my skill set but also my interests and how I like to spend my day. I liked the idea of having an intellectual problem and figuring out how to solve it. I enjoy using my voice and the written word to persuade people.


And as it turns out, my background as a choir director has informed my law practice quite a bit. Motivating middle schoolers to do anything is possibly the hardest job in the world, and the art of persuasion is key in the courtroom.


And as it turns out, my background as a choir director has informed my law practice quite a bit. Motivating middle schoolers to do anything is possibly the hardest job in the world, and the art of persuasion is key in the courtroom. I learned a lot about reading a room and figuring out how to respond based on what I saw in the classroom: facial expression, body language, that kind of thing.

The other thing I learned from teaching is that putting together a piece of choral music, or any music really, is a complex task that forms itself over the course of many weeks and months. Litigation is not unlike that: When you start on a case, you don’t really know exactly where it’s going to go. You need to think about strategy at the outset, but modify when necessary as the case continues to take form. It's an orchestration at every level.

My favorite part of being a music teacher was putting on concerts and performances. The kids got really excited about that and their energy was contagious. As an attorney, I think I still have that love of "performance"—I really enjoy presenting an oral argument or going to trial. You don't know what questions the judge is going to ask, or how a witness will respond. It's an opportunity to show what you've worked on, the culmination of all your preparation. 


Bindman-Jevon_150Jevon Bindman
Jevon.Bindman@maslon.com

Jevon Bindman is a trial attorney at Maslon. He focuses his work on business and appellate litigation. He has taken numerous complex matters to jury verdict, and helps both Fortune 500 companies and "mom and pop" operations to navigate all phases of the litigation process. Jevon also regularly handles appeals in the Eighth Circuit and Minnesota appellate courts.

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