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Mederson boldly goes where few attorneys go

Jessica Mederson (Staff photo by Kevin Harnack)

Jessica Mederson (Staff photo by Kevin Harnack)

Have you ever watched an original “Star Trek” episode where Captain James Kirk was being court-martialed and wondered about the legalities of what was happening?

Jessica Mederson has.

Mederson, an attorney with Hansen Reynolds Dickinson Crueger in Madison, discussed that trial as part of a legal panel discussion at the international Comic-Con event earlier this summer in San Diego. It was Mederson’s second year at the event, where she was also on a legal panel regarding Supergirl.

“It’s a lot of fun and Comic-Con is my favorite place to present,” she said. “You don’t get standing ovations in the courtroom or at most business presentations.”

Four years ago, Mederson started discussing e-discovery issues on social media and through that met fellow attorney Josh Gilliand of California.

“Somehow we got into the discussion about different legal issues in pop culture for fun. It just grew from there,” she said.

The two launched a blog called The Legal Geeks that attracted many followers from the legal world. When requests went out for presentation topics for 2015 Comic-Con, Mederson and Gilliand decided to send in the idea of a panel looking at the legal issues in the Star Wars series.

“We were accepted, but they didn’t really know what to expect,” she said. “They gave us a fairly small room.”

The panel discussion with lawyers and judges turned out to be a big hit.

“The Comic-Con audience is quite diverse and there are a lot of people interested in the legal issues regarding their favorite movies or TV shows,” Mederson said. “We hope to go back next year. We’ve found our formula for success — shining a spotlight on legal issues around popular topics like ‘Star Wars,’ ‘Star Trek’ or Marvel Comics.”

Mederson’s legal practice could not be more different than the topics discussed at Comic-Con or on the blog, which includes topics such as who really owns C3PO and R2D2. At Hansen Reynolds Dickinson Crueger, she focuses on construction litigation, employer-side litigation and general business litigation. The law is her second career; Mederson started out working in public relations.

“I really enjoyed working with businesses and advocating for them, but after a few years I decided to go to law school,” Mederson said. “I have always been told I would be a good attorney and I think it’s a natural fit for my interest and abilities.”

She picked business litigation as her practice focus since it allowed her to continue her interest in advocating for businesses, but instead of trying to get media coverage she was fighting to get a legal settlement in their favor.

“Electronic discovery plays a big role in a lot of my cases and that’s how I became so interested in it as a topic. I did not think it would lead to what it has — the blog and these presentations,” Mederson said.

Wisconsin Law Journal: What makes your work important to you?
Jessica Mederson: Knowing that I can help people or businesses in a way others can’t or, in some cases, I get to work with a client who can’t get help from anyone else.

WLJ: Who is your non-superhero in the legal field?
Mederson: Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. She has a strong, principled voice and is a great addition to our Supreme Court.

WLJ: What do you do outside of work to deal with stress from the office?
Mederson: I play with my kids, run and watch sitcoms. All three of those activities help me get my mind off of work and lower my stress level.

WLJ: What’s one thing many people get wrong about what you do?
Mederson: That because I’m a lawyer I can’t be fun. Too often when I tell people I’m a lawyer, they instantly assume that they won’t enjoy spending time with me, but if they give me a chance I can usually prove them wrong!

WLJ: What’s your favorite memory from law school?
Mederson: My contracts class. My contracts professor must have modeled his teaching style on John Houseman’s role as the contracts professor in ‘The Paper Chase.’ My professor was tough, intimidating and didn’t suffer fools, but he challenged us to look at the world in a different way. It was nerve-wracking being grilled by him, but I frequently volunteered anyway because of the thrill of being put on the spot and answering all of his questions (much like being grilled by a judge in court).

WLJ: Is there a certain case that stands out to you?
Mederson: After 14 years of practice there are a lot of cases that I still think about, for a variety of reasons. Some cases introduced me to a new area of the law that I found intriguing, other cases introduced me to judges and lawyers whose work I admire, and some cases taught me very valuable lessons that I continue to apply to my work even years later.

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