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College courses in philosophy helped to spark Jennifer Bullard’s interest in studying law. (File photo: Bill Klotz)

Breaking the Ice: Product liability defense fulfills intellectual curiosity

Name: Jennifer Bullard

Title: Associate, Bowman and Brooke

Education: B.A., Boston College, philosophy and political science; J.D., Loyola Law School


Jennifer Bullard has the “intellectually fulfilling” career she always aspired to have with her product liability practice in the Minneapolis office of Bowman & Brooke.

Bullard often defends makers of products including medical devices and off-road vehicles.

The cases typically are deep in facts, involve complex legal issues and sometimes personal injuries, Bullard said. They require learning about everything from the epoxy that holds shoe leather together to power plant control systems and lawn mower design.

“Getting to dig in on the medical side, on the product side and on legal side, the intersection of those three things I find interesting,” Bullard said. “It keeps my intellectual juices flowing.”

Bullard is proud of the result a year ago in which a federal court jury in Syracuse returned a unanimous defense verdict in favor of Bowman & Brooke client Polaris Industries Inc.

Bullard drafted the answer to the complaint and put on a defense expert in her first trial as second chair. Her 5-month-old daughter accompanied her to New York as did her mother, who watched the child during the day.

Q. What’s the best way to start a conversation with you?

A. Mention kids. My daughter is 16 months old. If you want to get me somewhere to have a conversation, all you have to do is invite me to have a cocktail.

Q. What prompted you to study law and pursue it professionally?

A. I started my freshman year of college with a couple of philosophy courses. The conversations about the role of law in society were the most interesting. The natural progression was from those early philosophical classes to learning more about the law to realizing how much room there is to grow intellectually and to use intellect and logic in the legal profession.

Q. What books are on your bedside table or e-reader?

A. I’ve got two on the bedside table. I am painfully slow at reading them. One is “Nicholas Nickleby” by Charles Dickens. The other is by Frank Sheed, “Theology and Sanity.”

Q. What is a pet peeve of yours?

A. People who walk on the left in the skyway. A more serious pet peeve is when other people’s procrastination becomes my problem.

Q. What are your favorite aspects of being an attorney?

A. My favorite part is having this intellectually interesting job and also working with really smart, good people who make the day to day a lot of fun.

Q. Least favorite?

A. Dealing with opposing counsel who have been hardened by years of practice, if I give them the benefit of the doubt, and are unreasonable or rude or both. The best lawyers I know are ones that have mastered the art of civility, especially when having a discussion with somebody about something that they disagree on. That’s the most effective advocacy.

Q. What’s a favorite activity outside your job?

A. Spending time with family. My husband and I try to go on a walk every night. That’s a highlight of my day. Both of our families live in town, so any time we get to see our family is a good time.

Q. If someone visits you in your hometown, what would you take them to see or do?

A. We live in Edina. There’s a park in Edina called Arneson Acres. It’s beautiful spring summer or fall. In the summer the lakes are a hidden gem. I’d take them on a bike ride over to Lake Harriet. In the fall we’d drive to Duluth or go to an apple orchard around here. The State Fair has to make the fall list too. I presume nobody’s visiting us in the winter.

Q. What’s a misconception people have about working as an attorney?

A. That attorneys are a bunch of hardened jerks. Some of the best lawyers I know are really smart and unwavering when they have the intellectual high ground but also impeccably civil and courteous whether they’re talking to someone they agree with or disagree with.

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