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Lawyer-Comedian Hopes to Make Listeners Laugh with Live CLEs

Nov. 1, 2019, 8:56 AM

Charles Star is on a mission to make normally staid CLEs fun as the host of a new continuing legal education lecture series in downtown Manhattan, where the content will be nerdy, but there will also be plenty of drinks and laughs.

The lecture series, called “Persuasive Authority,” is a natural culmination of Star’s career, which has taken him to Big Law offices and comedy club stages.

“I realized that this kind of law and comedy thing would work really well as a CLE,” he said. “It’s good for somebody who is good on stage and kind of an advanced dilettante,” he added.

The first lecture, on Nov. 2, is called “Bonfire of the Agencies: The Shrinking Administrative State” and will dive into the past and future of the Chevron doctrine and judicial review of federal agency rulemaking.

“It’s both historically interesting and genuinely significant to the way people live,” Star said.

The second planned event, on Nov. 30, will be about litigation stemming from amateur wrestling competitions, and how the rights of athletes intersect with court jurisdiction and arbitration law.

Star is still waiting on the CLE Board to accredit the two lectures, but he’s confident that they’ll be approved. Once that happens, audience members will be able to get retroactive CLE credits, or access a recording of the lecture if they weren’t able to make it to the live show.

“I have people who are not lawyers who I know from Twitter or other walks of life who want to listen to it anyway,” said Star. “But I think the real core audience is people who want their CLE to be worth their time.”

Law to Laughs

Star was a lawyer before he was a comedian. After graduating from Columbia Law in 1998, Star took a traditional career path into Big Law, working first at Kelley Drye & Warren and then at Proskauer Rose.

But after six years, he wanted a change. “So I went to do stand up,” he said.

The New York native continued to work as a contract attorney on the side to pay the bills, and today works as a staff attorney at Morvillo Abramowitz.

For four years, Star produced a show at Brooklyn’s Union Hall called “Adult Education,” which he billed as “a useless lecture series.”

Each show covered one general knowledge theme and featured four different presenters telling an entertaining story with the help of a PowerPoint presentation.

And from 2018 to 2019, he was the host of Mic Dicta, a podcast on law and current events. Star produced a total of 20 episodes and estimates that each one had approximately 20,000 listeners.

Harry Cheadle, an editor at Vice, commissioned two written pieces from Star after following him on Twitter and listening to the podcast.

“One thing that makes him stand out from other lawyers I’ve talked to in my work as a journalist is that he’s very blunt and kind of caustic about how law is practiced,” he said.

Star’s bluntness and wit are what make his legal analyses so interesting to non-lawyers, according to Cheadle.

But while he’s known for blending legal analysis with comedy, his new CLE lecture series will be slightly more serious than his previous live show, “Adult Education,” according to Star.

“I think doing straight stand-up would be disrespectful to the process,” he said. “The idea is for it to be a substantive lecture that is entertaining and amusing.”

Jim Hanas, who co-produced “Adult Education,” said Star may be a comedian but he’s also a “stickler” for the law. “He doesn’t sacrifice any of the details,” he said.

“He’s the guy I know that whenever there’s been a big Supreme Court ruling … he always explains it to me in a way that I understand and in a way that’s amusing,” said Hanas, who added he may attend the CLE lecture even though he’s not a lawyer and doesn’t need the credits.

To contact the reporter on this story: Stephanie Russell-Kraft in New York at srussellkraft@gmail.com
To contact the editor on this story: Rebekah Mintzer in New York at rmintzer@bloomberglaw.com

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