If you have never heard of David Kazzie, you are missing out on, well, your missing out on a lot of things. The guy is a lawyer but that label hardly does him justice. He is most known for his work on videos. He is the creator of “So You Want To Go To Law School,” which has riled a few attorneys because it is truer than any of them like to admit. He also landed a literary agent after launching the video “So You Want To Write A Novel.” And this past week, he published his first novel entitled “Jackpot.”
I interviewed David about his videos, landing a literary agent, and his new book. But before you read the interview, I suggest that you watch the video and spend five minutes of your day laughing.
1. Most people that have followed you know that you are the creator of the YouTube video “So You Want to Go to Law School.” But few know your background as a lawyer. What type of law do you practice?
I currently work for the state of Virginia prosecuting disciplinary cases in front of the Board of Nursing. There are laws and regulations governing all licensed health-care professionals in Virginia, and the Board examines all cases in which a professional is suspected of having violated a law or regulation.
In my 12 years as a lawyer, I’ve actually worked in a several different areas of the law – as a law clerk, as a staff attorney to the state supreme court, in insurance defense, and representing local government.
2. I think everyone who has watched your video has the same question. So who are the three people from Harvard who argue constitutional issues? Seriously, how did you come up with that idea?
Like most new lawyers, I learned fairly quickly that the practice of law is often quite different than what you expect when you start law school. Many new law students are fairly idealistic (me included), a sentiment that is reinforced by the academic materials you’re exposed to. You spend three years reading the seminal cases from a number of different practice areas, and you start to think that when you graduate, you’ll be shaping the law on a regular basis.
So when you get out to practice, and you realize that a lot of civil practice involves reviewing contracts, settling disputes between businesses, and trying car accident cases, it can be a little sobering. Occasionally, a random case will present a novel issue of law that may well be argued at the appellate level, but for most lawyers, that is the exception and not the norm.
For me, “the three lawyers in America who argue constitutional issues” sort of represented the reality that very few lawyers make their living arguing novel issues of law.
3. Why is the legal profession so easy to make fun of?
How much room do you have on your blog? I think there are a few reasons for that.
First, The law is this huge monolith with its own language, rituals, and customs. The law is dense and complex – I’m a lawyer, and there are many concepts and practice areas that are absolutely foreign to me. And yet it has a HUGE impact on people’s everyday lives, whether they like it or not.
Second, although most lawyers I’ve encountered are just regular, friendly people who want to do a good job, there are enough that are very aggressive and very mean-spirited, that feed into every stereotype out there. I just read an order from a Kansas federal district court where the judge had to spank the plaintiff’s lawyers because they objected to a continuance request from the defense attorney, whose wife is due to give birth the week trial is scheduled.
You see stories of frivolous lawsuits, shady criminal defense lawyers arguing ridiculous theories, reams of impossible-to-understand fine print in every document you sign, and it’s easy to start assuming that lawyers are just out to screw everyone and get rich in the process.
4. New York literary agent Ann Rittenberg recently signed you as a client. How long had you sought an agent? And approximately how many agents had you contacted prior to Ms. Rittenberg signing you?
Well, it’s a bit of a crazy story. I’ve been writing fiction for about 10 years. In that time, I had completed a couple of manuscripts and after finishing each one, I tried to find a literary agent to represent me so I could get published (a few publishers will consider manuscripts from unagented writers, but not many). Truth be told, those manuscripts weren’t very good, and looking back, I’m not surprised I didn’t find an agent for them.
Anyway, in addition to writing fiction, I decided to start writing a humor blog last summer. I wrote the Law School video in October, and then I followed that up with So You Want to Write a Novel in November. That video satirized all of the misconceptions a new writer might have about getting published (in a similar style to the Law School video). The Novel video went viral in the writing/publishing community, which put me in contact with a number of different agents, including Ann. We started talking about my career, my videos, my blog, and one thing led to another.
5. What types of books do you enjoy reading? (literary fiction, memoir, legal non-fiction) And what are you reading right now?
I mostly read fiction, but nonfiction has been eating into the market share in the last couple years. My three favorite books are Stephen King’s The Stand, Mystic River by Dennis Lehane (by happy coincidence, a longtime client of Ann’s), and Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry. I’m currently reading a book called The End is Now by Rob Stennett, which is a satirical look at the Rapture.
6. What would your advice be to someone who wants to go to law school?
My advice is to do as much research about the profession as possible before you mail you first law school application. Work in some law setting (in private practice, in a public defender’s office, in a prosecutor’s office) in any capacity you can. This will give you an inside look at what everyday practice is like, and it will open your eyes as to what practice areas you might enjoy later. Also, be very, very careful about the cost. Borrow as little as possible to attend because those loans can really weigh you down.
7. So what is next for David Kazzie? What is the next project in the works?
I actually just published my debut novel, The Jackpot, as a Kindle eBook on Amazon. It’s about a young lawyer who discovers that her financially desperate boss is planning to steal their new client’s gigantic winning lottery ticket, and her quest to return the ticket to its rightful owner. The link is here.
I am currently working on a new thriller. I also spend time on Twitter (@DavidKazzie) and blog at The Corner.
Shon, thanks so much for having me on your blog. I really enjoyed it!