September 8, 2011

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Clarence Dass ’10 Hosts Radio Show

Lawyers should get out of their offices more often.

That is what Clarence Dass ’10 believes – and what motivated him to approach a Detroit radio station about launching a legal education initiative.

“Law school, for me, is a vehicle for change. When you go to law school, you have knowledge that can help other people,” Dass said, “and the most important tool a lawyer has is communication.”

As the voice of the “Swift Justice” segment on WDVD 96.3’s “Blaine & Allyson in the Morning” show, Dass focuses on teaching listeners about a different aspect of law each week. He riffs off newspaper headlines or hot topics and talks about how the law applies to everything from posting mugshots on Facebook to whether there is validity behind the finders-keepers theory.

“I do think that lawyers have a duty to do things like this,” Dass said. “If we just sit in our office, writing memos, writing briefs, and filing motions, we forget that our job is to solve society’s problems.”

Dass was not interested in providing sensational analysis often found on cable news programs. Rather, his intent was to make “Swift Justice” a weekly educational segment that blended information, problem-solving, and entertainment. Originally, station leaders and Dass thought having two segments a month would suffice, but high ratings prompted them to make it a weekly segment on Fridays.

The format of the show, which launched in December, also has expanded to include callers. In a segment on childhood bullying, parents dialed in with details on the situation their children were facing and what remedies they had under the law.

Morning show hosts Blaine and Allyson also weigh in with their own perspectives. Blaine is conservative, while Allyson is liberal. “When we discuss legal topics, the public gets to hear every side of a legal issue,” Dass said. “The lawyer provides the law, and the public provides the opinion.”

While his primary motivation did not include gaining publicity for his firm, The Law Offices of Gurewitz & Raben, and his own practice, the show’s popularity on Detroit airwaves has yielded acclaim and clients for both.

“People who have attorneys already but aren’t getting adequate explanations about things from their attorneys have called me,” Dass said. “It’s putting my law practice into public practice.”

In law school, Dass was editor-in-chief of the Entrepreneurial Business Law Journal because he thought he would become a corporate lawyer. It was in his class white-collar crime that Dass’ interest in criminal law was piqued. After that, he dabbled in a variety of areas so he could have a broad foundation for understanding family law, constitutional law, and corporate law. Acquiring the skill of brevity also helped prepare Dass for “Swift Justice.”

“In law school, you’re trained to be economical with your language and your words. Lawyers speak differently than journalists do, than doctors do, than teachers do. When I go into the radio station, I assume that I’m in court,” he explained. “I have an outline with three points I want to make. I answer questions but keep things on the points I want to cover. My legal training helps move the segment along.”

In addition to the show, Dass keeps busy with his primary practice in white-collar crime. He also has branched into subpractices of juvenile, criminal, and international law. Dass is a board member for the Center for the Study of Citizenship, the Irvin D. Reid Honors College at Wayne State University, and the Detroit Metropolitan Bar Association, which gave him “The One to Watch” award in August.

“This is the way lawyers should think about practicing law in this generation. With the economy and the market, practicing law’s not limited to the courtroom, the classroom, or your office anymore,” he said. “It’s about reaching out to society.”

This article was written by Monica DeMeglio.

SideBar is a monthly electronic newsletter for Moritz College of Law alumni. Questions regarding this publication should be directed to moritzlawnews@osu.edu.