| Name:Amy E. Feldman
|Job Title: General Counsel, The Judge Group; Media Commentator
|Drinker Biddle practice and years: Labor and Employment, Director of Professional Recruitment, 1994-1998
|Education: Cornell University, B.A. 1991; University of Pennsylvania, J.D., 1994, M.S., Education, 1994
|Hobbies, Family and Civic Activities: Spending time with family, Writing
Between her job as a general counsel, a side job as a media commentator, working on another book and being a mom, Amy Feldman doesn’t have a lot of spare time. But she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I’m really grateful my time is so full,” she said. “I’m happy when I’m busy. I like to focus on the things that are in front of me right now.”
Amy is general counsel for The Judge Group, a professional services and international staffing company that operates in four countries and has more than 35 offices in the United States. She is also a nationally syndicated legal correspondent and runs the website yourlegalexplainer.com.
Born and raised in Philadelphia, Amy always knew she wanted to be a lawyer but was also drawn to the education field. Her grandparents and mother were teachers and she loved the idea of teaching, so she completed her master’s degree in education concurrently with her law degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1994. She was a Drinker Biddle summer associate and became a Labor and Employment Group associate in 1994.
Amy later stepped away from full-time practice to serve as Director of Professional Recruitment, recruiting lawyers and heading up the summer program. During that time, Drinker Biddle alumnus Karen Keating approached Amy about becoming in-house counsel at The Judge Group. As a former Corporate Group associate, Karen had represented the staffing company in its initial public offering and left the firm to be The Judge Group’s general counsel. It was a great fit for Amy, whose labor and employment experience was invaluable for a staffing firm managing more than 4,500 contractors working at client sites in different states daily. When Karen accepted an offer with another company in 1998, Amy was 28 and had only been out of law school for about five years. She remembers walking into the CEO’s office to offer him help in finding a new general counsel.
“He said to me, ‘Don’t bother. I’m looking at her,” Amy recalls.
It was an exciting experience and there was a huge learning curve, but Amy said she was lucky to have a boss and co-workers who supported her professional growth and understood when outside counsel was needed. Twenty years later, Amy said she feels lucky to still be working with people and a company that she loves. Amy said one of the most important parts of her job is to just wander the hallways and listen and talk to people so that if they’re worried or something isn’t going right, they will feel comfortable coming to her. She has helped others with personal issues that may be affecting their work, and in some cases, has helped with legal paperwork to support someone’s family following a medical emergency.
“I always say that I don’t judge my success based on how many lawsuits we win. I judge my success on how many lawsuits are never brought in the first place,” she said. “I feel very grateful to be where I am right now because I do feel like I get to help people on a personal basis in addition to a professional basis.”
Ask Amy, Esq.
Being a resource to staff members at The Judge Group is part of what led her to become a legal commentator. Amy was the only lawyer at the company for a long time and she would often get questions from people about legal issues. Many questions came up repeatedly, such as how to handle breaking a lease or liability in a car accident; questions that were important but didn’t require someone to hire an attorney. At the time, Amy noticed that legal reporting tended to focus on criminal trials or big Supreme Court decisions. The questions people asked were never being answered in the media, so she saw an opportunity to take complex legal issues and make them accessible and understandable to non-lawyers. She spoke with the news director at KYW Radio in Philadelphia and shared her idea with him. After a screen test, his response was that if she was willing to do it for free on the weekends and focus on business-related legal issues, they could include her in the weekend business reports.
Amy started going to the radio station once a month to tape a few segments at a time, and in 2003, she became a syndicated legal commentator with Coast-to-Coast Radio Productions, which now airs her segments on KYW and in 34 different media markets across 18 states. Today, she tapes the radio segments in her office and sends the MP3s to her syndicator for distribution. She is regularly live on KYW on Wednesdays as part of a reporters’ roundup segment and occasionally appears on Good Day Philadelphia on Fox 29. Amy said her segments are not limited to business and cover timely, interesting legal topics in an entertaining but educational way.
“All I’m there to do is explain to them what they need to know about what the law is. Whether they are happy or sad or screaming angry about those laws, that’s for them to decide,” she said. “But I’m here to educate them on what they are what their responsibilities are.”
In 2009, Amy co-wrote a book with her sister, the humor writer Robin Epstein, titled “So Sue Me, Jackass! Avoiding Legal Pitfalls That Can Come Back to Bite You at Work, at Home and at Play.” The book delivers practical advice on legal questions with a dose of humor and covers topics such as handling disputes with neighbors, prenuptial agreements, insurance issues, office pools and household help. Amy is working on another book about navigating legal issues, targeted toward a children and pre-teen audience ,that will cover issues such as cell phones and privacy. Amy also runs the website yourlegalexplainer.com, which provides access to her radio segments along with articles and other resources.
Building a media presence
Technology and the internet have opened up more platforms to reach audiences, and Amy said she is working on the best way to build her brand while staying true to herself. Social media can be time consuming, she said, and often the people who get the most attention are shouting the most dramatic things to garner notice. Amy said that’s not who she is and she doesn’t want attention at any cost. Her advice to someone interested in becoming a legal commentator is to find a niche and be prepared to put in the work to speak with authority on those topics. There is no quick payoff and it’s up to the person to find a media platform and build an audience.
“I would say never lose sight of what your purpose is because it’s easy to get distracted into things that you don’t love or that you don’t think present you in the best light. Don’t go out there overturning tables because you’ve seen people on The Real Housewives do it,” she said. “But start. Start working, start going for it, start taping yourself and see if you can get a following.”