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Professor-Comic Proves Law Is Funny


When the subject of lawyers comes up in conversation, what probably comes to mind are serious people doing serious things, "L.A. Law" types in button-down shirts and power ties.

Entertainment lawyer and college lecturer Dan Brenner meets that description much of the time, but he can be a pretty funny guy. For the last 10 years he has been doing stand-up comedy at comedy clubs around the country.

Brenner, an adjunct professor of law at UCLA, also teaches a comedy course at UCLA Extension for would-be comedians interested in developing their own brand of humor.

He doesn't think the worlds of law and comedy are that far apart. Both lawyers and comics use words to be persuasive, he said. The lawyer tries to persuade a jury or people in negotiations to reach agreement. A comic tries to persuade an audience to laugh.

Brenner, who admits to being somewhere in his mid-30s, started doing stand-up after he appeared on the television show "The Dating Game" and found that he felt comfortable in front of an audience. Ever since, comedy has become a second career for the Stanford graduate, who works for the law firm LeBoeuf, Lamb, Leahy & MacCrae in Los Angeles.

Brenner's humor often finds its way into his regular law school classroom. Entertainment law is student Dave Garrett's favorite class. "I don't even have to drink caffeine to stay awake," Garrett said.

Los Angeles attorney Patricia Phillips was presented with the 1991 Shattuck-Price Memorial Award by the Los Angeles County Bar Assn. on April 17.

The award, the highest honor bestowed by the Bar Assn., is given to the member who has demonstrated outstanding dedication to the highest principles of the legal profession and administration of justice. Phillips, a partner with Hufstedler, Kaus & Ettinger, practices family law and business litigation in Los Angeles. She was president of the Bar Assn. in 1984 and 1985, the first woman to serve in that position.

The Community Corp. of Santa Monica has appointed Joan Ling as executive director.

Ling, formerly assistant director of development for the Los Angeles County Community Development Commission, brings to the job over 10 years of planning and development experience in the private and public sectors.

Brentwood resident Mary Jean Gilbert has been elected vice president of philanthropic affairs for the Greater Los Angeles Chapter of the National Society of Fund Raising Executives.

She will coordinate legislative affairs that affect fund raising and National Philanthropy Day in Los Angeles. Gilbert is a consultant with Forster-Gilbert Associates in Brentwood.

Loyola Marymount University English professor Frances Gussenhoven has received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Gussenhoven, one of 12 individuals chosen nationally, will attend a six-week summer institute at Stanford University with 24 other undergraduate professors. The theme will be "Writing As Quest: The Grail and the Rose."

Since 1967, she has been a professor at LMU and has received three grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities to attend summer research seminars.

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