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Trapping O.J. Simpson: An Atypical Lawyer and His Methods [By Mary Waldron] Jonathan Polak does not fit the typical, cliché lawyer image. He is not fast-talking, conniving, or deceptive. In fact, he is probably the nicest, most humble lawyer around. But do not let that fool you into thinking he is a pushover. Although Polak has a glowing integrity that beams even over a phone line, his determination when it comes to winning his cases is illustrated by his approach to law.

By accepting the challenge to constantly

One of the smart people that Polak learned

before he graduated from law school. He was

find new, creative solutions to cases, Polak

a lot from was his mentor and teacher,

offered jobs with both firms upon graduation

keeps his practice fresh and his own work

Professor Kobylka. Kobylka was one of

from SMU School of Law. Polak accepted

interesting and stimulating. His most current

Polak’s undergraduate political science

an offer from a lawyer he had worked for

case involves representing the Goldman

teachers, and he has had a great deal of

who was transferring to another Dallas

family in obtaining O.J. Simpson’s rights to

influence on the ways Polak tackles issues in

firm called Harder, Hadden, Johnson, and

publicity. Simpson owes them and the Brown

law. “He was just so smart about the way he

Bromberg.

family $33.5 million from a 1997 wrongful

analyzed issues. Even though he was not an

death civil case for the deaths of his ex-wife,

attorney, he had a very lawyer-like approach

After two years with Harder, Hadden,

Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend,

to the way that he looked at civil rights

Johnson, and Bromberg, Polak made the

Ronald Goldman.

issues and those types of issues where law

decision to change his pace by moving to

and politics intersect.”

a litigation boutique firm in Dallas called

From the time that he began to excel on the

Calhoun & Stacy. This move was crucial to

debate team in high school, Polak knew that

Polak got a jumpstart on his career when he

his future success because he was given a

he was cut out to be a lawyer. He earned

clerked at a couple of law firms the summer

variety of opportunities to try cases and really

his B.S. in Political Science and his J.D. at Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas. Attending the same university for law school that he did as an undergraduate was a valuable experience for Polak. “It allowed me to take advantage of some of the relationships that I had already built there,” he said. While Polak was at SMU, he was active in student government and eventually served as student body president during his senior year as an undergraduate. He also participated in the school’s law review during law school. Although working on the law review was

dive into litigation. “In the span of the two or Q. What are your interests and hobbies? A. When I get a chance, I love to play with my three kids. I’ve got a nine-year-old and a six-and-a-half-year-old little girl, and I’ve got a little boy who’s about two and a half years old. Occasionally, I’ll get out and play a little golf. Q.What CD is in your CD player right now? A.I listen to Nickelback, and I recently downloaded my favorite band from high school, Iron Maiden. Q. What is the last magazine you read? A. ESPN Magazine

not the most thrilling activity for him, he gained an abundance of legal knowledge and understanding. “I got to work with some really smart people, and I think that’s the best thing about practicing law. You get to be around a lot of really smart people, and you can learn a lot from them,” he said.

three years that I was there, I took probably 150 to 250 depositions and tried about 10 or 12 cases. I really was able to cut my teeth on a true litigation practice,” he said. Once Polak and his wife decided to move to Indiana to start a family, he began working for bankruptcy and real estate firm Dann, Pecar, Newman & Kleinman. It was here that Polak took his practice and its focus to a whole new level. Building his firm’s intellectual property department from the ground up, Polak became a master in that area of law. Last February, Polak became the chair of

Q. What is your favorite television show? A. 24 Q. Who is your role model? A. As corny as it sounds, both of my parents are truly my role models.

Sommer Barnard’s intellectual property department in Indianapolis. Close to 70% of his current work is devoted to intellectual property litigation and consulting. Some of Polak’s latest cases in the area of intellectual property rights have concerned

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LAWCROSSING

THE LARGEST COLLECTION OF LEGAL JOBS ON EARTH

LAW STAR

www.lawcrossing.com

1. 800.973.1177

the estates of late high-profile celebrities—

When news of an upcoming book release

like, we will be taking action to capture those

such as Marilyn Monroe, John Wayne, and

by Simpson arose and quickly disappeared,

funds. But if he never goes out and appears

Duke Ellington—and his clients’ battles to

Polak and the Goldman family were taunted

in public again, if he stays in that virtual

keep their rights to photographs and uses of

yet again by Simpson’s failure to make

jail cell that we put him in, then we will, at

late celebrities’ names and likenesses.

payment. He reportedly pocketed $1.1

minimum, have the moral victory of putting

million for his hypothetical account of the

him in there,” Polak said.

In 2001, putting a twist on his intellectual

murders of his ex-wife and her friend, If I Did

property practice, Polak joined forces

It, which was recently pulled from release.

Throughout his career, and specifically

with Karl Manders, who owns a private

According to Polak, Simpson created a

with the Goldman case, Polak has come

investigator firm in Indianapolis called

“sham entity” called Lorraine Brooke

to discover one of the keys to enjoying the

Continental Enterprises, Inc. Manders

Associates (based on the middle names of

practice of law. “Stay creative about the way

initiated the idea to help the Goldman family

two of his children), in which he has been

that you approach clients’ problems. When

obtain O.J. Simpson’s rights to publicity in

stashing his monetary gains in order to

everyone else is telling you ‘no, you can’t do

order to satisfy the payment that he has

shield them from the Goldmans.

that,’ there’s always a way to find a way to do it. You just have to be creative, and you’ve

owed them for almost 10 years. “Rather than chasing the money after it’s been paid,

Fingers are also being pointed at the

got to be aggressive, and you’ve got to find a

which is really a lost cause, we want to

companies that contributed to Simpson’s

path because that path is out there,” he said.

take possession of the property right that

payment for the infamous book and the TV

enables him to go and do these signings and

interview that was set to discuss the book.

“It’s really easy to fall into the tried and

get money,” he said. This means that if the

“The real villains in this are the people

true practices, but what makes layering

family wins this case, they will receive all

who acted in concert with him who you

fun, if there is such a thing, is to go places

payments earned by Simpson’s name and

would expect better from—companies like

no one has gone yet and to find ways to do

likeness until the judgment payment amount

HarperCollins, Fox Broadcasting, and News

things that no one else has tried and then

is met.

Corp.,” Polak said.

to be successful at it…because then you are

“He has thumbed his nose at the legal

As Polak and the Goldmans prepare to take

system for so long; going out and striking

the issue on appeal, Polak said, “regardless

Because of his active interest in seeking new

deals and doing signings and autograph

of whether we are successful or not, we

ways to solve cases, Polak has managed to

shows, never really giving the Goldmans the

intend to push the envelope as far as we can

keep his passion for law alive and thriving,

benefit of any of that, even in part,” Polak

to see how far judges are willing to protect a

paving the way for a continuously exciting

said.

killer’s assets. Whether he was ever put into

career in law.

making law, and that can be really fun.”

an actual jail cell or not, he will remain in a ON THE NET

Although Simpson was found not guilty in a

virtual jail cell as long as the Goldmans have

criminal trial for the 1994 deaths of his ex-

anything to say about it and certainly as long

wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend,

as I am their attorney, and we are going to

Sommer Barnard, PC

Ronald Goldman, he was found guilty in a

continue to tighten our grip around him and

www.sommerbarnard.com

wrongful death civil case in 1997.

his assets and make that jail cell smaller and smaller and smaller using legitimate legal

Southern Methodist University

procedures that are available to us.”

www.smu.edu

Superior Court Judge Linda Lefkowitz

If the Goldmans do win and Simpson decides

HarperCollins Publishers

because she claimed that it would harm

to hide away in seclusion, the Goldmans

www.harpercollins.com

Simpson’s right to privacy…although

will still be justified in their actions. “The

Simpson does not appear to be attempting to

Goldmans are in the perfect position because

lead a low-profile life.

we get victory either way. If he continues to

The Goldmans’ case actually went to court last October but was denied by Santa Monica

go out and have public appearances and the

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Trapping O.J. Simpson: An Atypical Lawyer and His Methods