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Gerardo “Jerry” Alcazar

Breaking the Ice: Creative approach informs products liability practice

Name: Gerardo “Jerry” Alcazar

Title: Attorney, Blackwell Burke

Education: B.S. kinesiology, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; J.D., University of Wisconsin Law School

Gerardo “Jerry” Alcazar uses creativity to connect with jurors in representing Fortune 500 clients in his national products liability defense practice at Blackwell Burke.

Alcazar uses graphics, pictures and other creative elements in presenting his case to reach jurors in a way that simply making a speech might not.

“I get the opportunity to develop the facts, to learn about the technology and the products, how they were designed, who made it, engineered, manufactured, tested it, and then synthesize all of that information into a presentation on behalf of my client to persuasively tell their narrative, their story about the product and why it’s safe to use,” Alcazar said.

With cases across the country, Alcazar is fielding questions about how court shutdowns and statute of limitations change in some states because of the coronavirus pandemic will affect cases.

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

A: To say hello. I tend not to be a conversation starter. I am, however, curious about people and welcome a conversation.

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

A: A couple months before I graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, I met somebody from Hamline Law School at a career fair. After that I began thinking more about how I could use an education in the law to help people in my community. I was raised in a predominantly Mexican neighborhood on the south side of Milwaukee with very few lawyers. I thought that being a lawyer would be the best way to help. I didn’t have an opportunity to get back to Milwaukee to do that, but that started me on my path.

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

A: Currently on the nightstand is, “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. In the last three months or so I’ve read, “Long Walk to Freedom,” by Nelson Mandela; “The Sixth Man,” by Andre Iguodala; “Talking to Strangers,” by Malcolm Gladwell.

Q: What is a pet peeve of yours?

A: I tend to be fairly easygoing. One thing that can bug me is a lack of follow through. I pride myself on the service that I provide my clients. My expectation is that if you say you will do something you will do it and it will get done well.

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

A: Working with clients to develop a strategy to win the case. I’ve had the privilege of working with extremely bright and talented in-house lawyers at several companies in the Twin Cities. It’s a joy to dig in on the facts and the law to determine what strategy makes the most sense to come to a sensible resolution.

Q: Least favorite?

A: Billing time.

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

A: Spending time with my family and our dog, George. I’m also the catcher on a 28-plus hardball team.

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

A: Lake Harriet. It’s a great place to spend an afternoon. Good food, good music, good scenery, very relaxing.

Q: Is there an attorney or judge, past or present, whom you admire most?

A: A number of lawyers and judges in the Minnesota Hispanic Bar Association have become family. Jerry Blackwell, Brent Reichert, Ann Anaya and Judge Ann Montgomery have also been instrumental in my career.

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

A: That it’s not a creative process. Litigation generally gives me an opportunity to exercise my creativity in the way that I communicate on behalf of my client.

Q: What is your favorite depiction of the legal professional in popular culture?

A: Bryan Stevenson’s depiction of the justice system in his book “Just Mercy” and the movie is important for every lawyer and non-lawyer to see.

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