Attorney at Law Magazine Palm Beach Publisher Rhenne Leon sat down with Joshua Alper to discuss his career and the mentors that inspired him.
AALM: When did you first know you wanted to become an attorney? What drew you to this career?
Alper: As a student at the University of Michigan majoring in political science and sociology, I was always fascinated by how laws are drafted and passed by Congress, and how our laws can be challenged through the judicial system. I was fortunate to intern with the Department of Justice environment and natural resources division in Washington, D.C. As an intern, I attended hearings on Capitol Hill regarding environmental legislation, and obtained an in-depth perspective about the policy-making process. After this experience, I knew I wanted to become a lawyer.
AALM: Who is your current mentor? What is the best lesson they’ve taught you so far?
Alper: My current mentor is Albert Frevola. He is a partner in my law firm Conrad & Scherer LLP. He taught me how to approach a case strategically, constantly thinking about the next chess move in the action. Since my law firm handles many high-profile cases, employing a strategy at the beginning of a matter helps guide the theory of the case. This, in turn, aids in identifying motions to file, and which topics of discovery to pursue. He has taught me to think more critically about cases and how to achieve the best outcome.
AALM: How is the practice of law different than your expectations in law school?
Alper: Law school teaches you how to critically analyze legal issues, and gives you an introduction into specific areas of law. These are the building blocks for your legal career. After graduation, I worked for a large law firm. I quickly learned that law school is not intended to completely prepare you for the practice of law. Many practical skills such as interviewing and counseling clients, conducting depositions, and learning skills necessary for a trial are not the chief focus. I was fortunate to be exposed to these skills early on in my career, which has benefitted me greatly. AALM: Of the cases you’ve worked on or witnessed, what has stood out most in your mind?
Alper: Most of my cases are highly complex, and no matter is the same.
Each case requires me to learn a new industry or business so that I can more efficiently and strategically represent my client. Additionally, I was recently part of a litigation team that prepared a case for trial. Being on the front lines preparing a case for trial taught me that communicating a position to a jury is vastly different that arguing a motion before a court. I think lawyers that are able to excel at both of these skills are ultimately the best advocates.
AALM: With technology and an ever-global world, how do you see the legal profession evolving over your career? Do you believe this will be positive or negative?
Alper: Discovery involving emails, text messages and other electronic information is becoming more pervasive in litigation. Learning about this topic is crucial to the practice of law because these are popular modes of communication. Every email and text message a person sends could possibly be discoverable in a legal action. While this can be a positive because the volume of documents and information created inevitably creates a paper trail about the facts of a case, it can be challenging because the amount of documents at issue will increase exponentially. Consequently, legal fees and costs of cases can increase.
AALM: What do you enjoy doing outside of work? Hobbies? Sports?
Alper: Living in South Florida requires you to enjoy being outdoors. I particularly enjoy running, going to the beach, playing tennis, fishing, going to new restaurants, attending sports events, going to the movies, and spending time with my wife and 3-year-old son. As a relatively new dad, I cherish the moments I am able to do things with my son that I enjoyed as a child. Currently, my son loves going to Disney World, and, as a result, we are regular visitors.