Alum at Home in Front of Jury
“I enjoy trying jury cases,” says Stephen G. Anderson ’74, a partner at Fuller, Rosenberg, Palmer, and Beliveau in Worcester, MA. “Trials involve a tremendous amount of preparation, and preparing an effective cross examination takes hours,” he says. But the hours spent preparing for trial is worth it: “Fundamentally, I believe if you do what you love, you’ll love what you do!”
A typical work-week for Anderson includes depositions, court appearances, arbitrations, trial preparations, negotiations, and mediations. “Balancing work with other commitments is an ongoing struggle for me,” he says. “My balance has fluctuated based on my position and family needs” – whether those needs mean serving as a soccer coach, Sunday school teacher, or Cub Scout leader, or simply taking vacations with his children and wife.
Professionally, Anderson says there are always mundane tasks, but he has learned to appreciate their importance. “The witnesses have to show up at the right courthouse on the right date and time,” he says. If those details are overlooked, the entire case may be in jeopardy.
Developing the people-skills necessary to prepare and engage with clients is something Anderson has enjoyed. It is something he learned by working as house counsel for a small insurance company and as a lawyer for a suburban law firm. Those early positions taught him that developing business, billing clients, discussing and adjusting fees was not for him. “Since learning what I do not enjoy, I have concentrated on litigation,” he says.
For Anderson, litigation has always been one of the more unpredictable legal domains. “Once, I was making a closing argument and noticed a juror smiling at me,” he remembers. “I realized the duct tape used to keep the recording wires in place had come loose and I was now dragging it across the floor with my left foot.” These amusing instances come “with the territory” for trial litigation, and lawyers quickly learn how to prevail. Anderson says he “never skipped a beat” in the duct tape incident – he just smiled back at the juror and quietly ripped the tape off using his free foot.
“As trial lawyers, we think that we’re interesting people and the jury wants to listen to us,” he says. “I periodically remind myself that the jurors are actually compelled to be there by law and not because they like the sound of my voice or think I’m brilliant,” he jokes.
Anderson says his success is built upon a strong work ethic learned from his parents; support from his family, friends, and colleagues; and, importantly, a great education from UMass: “I was a mediocre student in high school,” Anderson says. “UMass took a chance on me, and it changed my life.”
Anderson, who recently joined the Department of Political Science Advisory Board, shares his alumnus pride with a number of cousins who also graduated from UMass. Those cousins introduced him to the University, but “the size of the school and the diversity of the programs sucked [him] in.” Moreover, he says, with UMass, you get “opportunity, not debt.”
“As an alumnus, I believe in the work UMass does, and the positive influence we, as a UMass community, have on young adults. The advantages I received from UMass are ones I want to share,” he says. “I don’t enjoy hearing high school students saying they’re ‘just’ going to UMass. They’re going to the opportunity of a lifetime.”