Jules Epstein is ready to run.
He stands on Boathouse Row, near the Philadelphia Art Museum, fully dressed in his running attire. He is loosened up, stretched out, and planning the best route.
Epstein joined Temple Law School in the summer of 2015, succeeding Edward “Eddie” Ohlbaum, who led Temple Law’s award-winning trial advocacy programs from 1989 until his untimely death in 2014. Epstein, who learned what it meant to be an advocate from Ohlbaum while at the Defender Association of Philadelphia, was humbled by the opportunity to step into his shoes. “I’ve been learning from Edward Ohlbaum since 1978,” said Epstein, who called his move to Temple the culmination of a career in litigation. “I’m honored to follow in his footsteps.”
Running offers Epstein a marvelous mechanism to clear his head and think deeply about issues, he says.
In following in those footsteps, Epstein plans to bring an education centered on advocacy to as many law students as possible. “My goal is to ensure that anybody who wants an advocacy education will get a darned good one,” he says. “Because if I only train a few well and leave everybody else to their own devices, I’m not doing right by the school, the students, or the profession.”
He also draws a line between advocacy and litigation. “Advocacy is much more than litigation. Advocacy is in arbitration. Advocacy is in mediation. Advocacy is in motions practice. So, broadening without diluting – this is the tension – we want to broaden what we teach as advocacy while making sure that the fundamental skills are never diminished or ignored.”
Back on Boathouse Row, the photographer sets up along the northern edge of the running path and asks Epstein to jog south about 20 yards and then start running back. Epstein bounds off, performing the loop several times while being asked after each photo to run, “just a little slower.” That’s a challenge for Epstein, who functions much like an expensive sports car that was only engineered to drive fast.
In short, Epstein embodies liveliness. In articles announcing Epstein as Temple’s new Director of Advocacy Programs, colleagues described Epstein using words such as passion, spirit, and energy. You’d have to possess endless energy to handle what Epstein does on a day-to-day basis. He is a member of the National Commission on Forensic Science and serves on the faculty of the National Judicial College. He is an accomplished scholar in the law of evidence, handles post-conviction capital cases as court-appointed or pro bono counsel, and contributes to amicus briefs on behalf of organizations such as the Pennsylvania Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. That’s in addition to his regular teaching duties, for which he has earned acclaim, including a Lindback Foundation Award for Distinguished Teaching, an Outstanding Faculty Award, and the Roscoe Pound Foundation Award for Excellence in Teaching Trial Advocacy.
Epstein bounds off, performing the loop several times while being asked after each photo to run, “just a little slower.” That’s a challenge for Epstein, who functions much like an expensive sports car that was only engineered to drive fast.
And yet, for all his accomplishments, Epstein wakes up every morning excited to come to work and learn with the zeal you would expect of a new law school graduate, not a seasoned professional. “The thing about me is that remaining active in the law – affecting it, following it, staying current with it – is part of who I am,” says Epstein.
A few jogs later, Epstein barely looks like he’s broken a sweat.
“Are you up for one more angle?” says the photographer.
“I can do these loops all night,” Epstein offers.
Running offers Epstein a marvelous mechanism to clear his head and think deeply about issues, he says. He’s also drawn to the autonomy of the sport. Running requires discipline and gives him a standard of performance against which he can continually test himself. (He recently fell behind his ideal pace of six-minute miles, a fact that clearly bothers him.)
Running is also a metaphor for his career. To be a capable advocate, one needs to keep training and relentlessly seek peak performance. “It’s what I have tried to do for 37 years,” Epstein says. “To attain a mastery of a discipline and then stay at a level of mastery.”
And so Epstein bounds off, ready to run another loop and ready to keep learning, improving, and striving for mastery.