Dewey Pegno & Kramarsky / Q&A with Associate Jack Millson
Jack Millson joined DPK in March 2017. His practice focuses on complex commercial litigation, securities litigation and internal investigations, with an emphasis on representation of banks and financial institutions. Before joining DPK, Jack was a litigation associate at Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP. Jack received his J.D. cum laude from New York University School of Law, and he earned his B.A. in Mathematics and Economics from Hamilton College.
Jack very recently celebrated the birth of his first child, Oliver. He took time out of his very busy schedule to share his thoughts on being a new father, mastering the art of Zoom arbitration hearings, and the most exciting part of his job as a lawyer.
Congratulations on your new baby! What is it like to be a new father?
Thank you! We had our son Oliver in mid-August. The first week felt like a whole year living on a new planet. Everything was so new. “More” everything than I possibly could have imagined. It is a more profound and emotional experience than I could have comprehended. Everything in our lives now revolves around our son. It's exhausting, difficult work but all worth it when he smiles, or grabs my finger, or any of the other miracles performed on a daily basis. He wakes me up every morning at 5AM, which means people get some strangely timed emails from me. Especially working remotely, I just have to squeeze things in based on the baby’s schedule. More than anything, I am excited for the future. It is fun to see him do new things and know that it's just the beginning.
What’s the most exciting part of your job?
For me, nothing beats final arbitration hearings and trials. Years of preparation go into maximizing your chances of success . . . and then it begins. I love the fast paced excitement of having to react on the fly to something unexpected or, even better, the gratification of seeing years of strategizing culminate into just the answer you expected. It's exhausting work, but I could do it all year round (and sometimes get pretty close).
Any tips for a successful Zoom meeting/hearing?
I would say that everything we thought about Zoom hearings going in turned out to be even truer than we anticipated.
Everything takes much longer than you expect it to. There will be technological issues. The more prepared you can be with “traditional” solutions everyone is comfortable with, the smoother things will go. For example, we have had success sending hard copy exhibits, which gives everyone’s eyes a break from staring at a screen and is more in everyone’s comfort zone as lawyers.
Anything that relies on eliciting or evoking emotion is much, much more difficult over Zoom. Same goes for testimony regarding complex, analytical heavy concepts. Both because of the medium and because it is difficult for arbitrators to stay focused and not get fatigued. We have found that frequent breaks paired with covering salient topics earlier in the day and soon after breaks can help make sure points land in the same way they might in person.
What’s the best advice you can give to someone who just started their career?
Don’t be afraid to be yourself and speak your mind. A lawyer that just repeats what they think their supervisors want to hear is just an overpriced voice recorder. Even the “toughest” partners I have worked with have appreciated those who know when to, respectfully, push back and voice opinions that were different from those of the group. Though it helps to be “right” if you do.
What was your first job?
I worked as a Barista at Starbucks during college. Stationed almost always at the espresso machine, by far the worst spot if you don’t like to be harangued by waiting customers. I made the mistake of seeking to be “flexible” as to my work schedule, so I consistently got the 5AM-12PM shift. Which I learned to love. And was a prelude to my new “job” waking up at 5AM.
What has been the most rewarding part of your career to date?
DPK has been a great place for a lawyer aspiring to do trial and arbitration work. The firm recently handled a long, complex arbitration on behalf of a financial institution, and we had over 40 hearing days spanning multiple years. As a part of a small arbitration team, I had the opportunity to be centrally involved in all phases of the arbitration, including helping to set strategy, examining witnesses, and arguing motions before the Panel. It was very gratifying to work in that environment, and all the more so because we eventually prevailed after a hard-fought arbitration.
Do you have any talents or hobbies?
I will leave it to my family and friends to say whether it’s a talent, but I love cooking. Something about calm and (relative) control following long, chaotic days. Especially barbequing over wood fires. My ideal summer (or when I’m feeling tough, winter) day is waking up at 4AM and starting a fire and smoking a brisket for 16 hours. I am looking forward to my new little helper getting big enough to help.
Are you a morning person or a night owl?
If you asked me two months ago, I would have been a night owl. Now if I’m up past 9PM it's “late.”
Which historical figure would you most like to meet?
Nelson Mandela. My father was born in South Africa, so we learned about him growing up. Now more than ever, someone able to bridge that kind of divide seems like someone we could all learn and benefit from.
Do you have any pets?
We have a three year old 50 pound pitbull/rottweiler mix that we adopted. Her name is Isabella but we call her Izzy. She’s a very nervous dog but she loves nothing more than her new younger brother.
What’s your favorite food?
Tough one. I am a big lover of food (both eating it and cooking it!). It depends what kind of mood I’m in. For a quick lunch, nothing beats a Carnitas burrito (team DPK can confirm that in the “olden days” of office work I ate a burrito from the local spot at least 4 times a week). If I’m going to splurge on an expensive dinner, nothing beats sushi. My favorite in NYC is Sushi Noda (though going the night I got engaged may have had something to do with that).
Are you a coffee or tea person?
Coffee. Or more specifically caffeine. I can’t imagine getting through a day without some.
What’s your favorite season?
I love all four. My favorite part of living in the Northeast is that we get them in pretty equal fourths. If I really had to choose it would be Fall. After long humid summers, it’s hard to beat the cool crisp fall air and the natural beauty of trees changing color.