NJWLA Member to perform on stage

Jodi Rosenberg has been playing it up on stage since she was in grade school.

She even pursued a career in the law with the idea that it would allow her an opportunity to perform on another kind of stage, the courtroom, to the benefit of clients.

Now, she’s bringing those talents to the role of Domina, one of the female leads in “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” a Stephen Sondheim musical. The production, which features dozens of other attorneys and judges from around the state, will be staged as part of the fifth Celebration of Lawyers in the Arts on Sept. 14 at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) in Newark.

The event, which also features photography, painting and music performed by attorneys, benefits New Jersey Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts (NJVLA). The organization provides legal education and representation to the state’s arts community.

Rosenberg is vice-chair of the New Jersey State Bar Association’s Women in the Profession Section. A few years ago she became a solo litigator based in Millburn after she lost her job with one of the state’s larger law firms due to recessionary cutbacks.

Q: Is this your first Celebration of Lawyers in the Arts event?

A: I went to see the production of “The Pajama Game” years ago. There was another person from my firm in the show, and I said, “I have to do this.” Two years ago, I performed in the production of “Bye Bye Birdie.”

Q: What was it like personally and professionally to perform with and for other members of the legal community?

A: I fell in love with all of the people I was working with. It was like a family. When I joined the cast, I had recently lost my job. Through the people in the show, I decided to become a solo. They were beyond helpful. Everyone took care of me. I did contract work for one attorney and received transactional business from another. Being in the play was amazing. And performing on stage at NJPAC with all the mics and the technicians, it is a dream come true. Everybody who is there wants to be there. We love it.

Q: How did you get into the law? 

A: I am a lawyer because I am a frustrated performer. I did school plays. In law school, I did the legal follies. When I was pregnant with each of my three children, I did community theatre, and instead of getting me jewelry after their births, my husband got me acting classes. I produced the elementary school play at my kids’ school, and I didn’t even have a kid in the play until this year. Performing is my other love. I mistakenly thought being a lawyer would mean being in court every day. I don’t get to court as much as I would like, but when I am there, I love every minute of it.

Q: How do you like working as a solo, after all your years with a firm?

A: I love the independence. I love that I was able to reinvent myself. It’s great. I work harder as a solo than I did at a firm.

Q: Do the lawyers talk shop back stage?

A: Not really. Two years ago, I did not know until we sat there putting on our makeup for the performance what everybody did.

Q: Do you get stage fright in court or during performances?

A: I don’t, but I am working overtime to take singing and acting lessons so I make a good showing.

Q: Have you gotten involved with NJVLA?

A: Yes. It’s a different kind of pro bono. I did a couple projects, such as reviewing agreements.

 *excerpt taken from:
The Bar Report
New Jersey Law Journal August 29, 2011

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