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Judge Field's Lessons Gleaned From Improv Comedy

Embrace the awkward moments. Don’t try too hard. Work with what you are given. Know that you are never really stuck. These are a few of the lessons shared by the Honorable Julie Kunce Field, a now retired Judge from Colorado’s 8th District, that she learned while doing improv comedy. A group from the Larimer County Women’s Bar Association joined Judge Field for a CLE on February 15 to hear the ten things she learned from improv comedy that made her a better judge. 

The Hon. Julie Kunce Field, now retired, presented tips she learned from improv comedy to the group in Fort Collins, CO.

In addition to being a great stress reliever, Judge Field discussed how starting an improv comedy class (on the day she was sworn in as a judge) built her confidence and helped generate goodwill in the courtroom. Judge Field recalled a time when her improv skills came in handy after she accidentally called an attorney, “Your honor.” After a brief awkward silence, she followed up the folly by saying “I’m sorry, counselor. I know you like to be called ‘Your Excellency.’” 


As part of the event, Judge Field invited the attendees to participate in an improv exercise by building a story one word and one person at a time. The attendees' story went as follows: “Once upon a blue glockenspiel, dogs ran away to dog grocery store. Later, I went to the movies and cried.” Though not a front runner for a poetry or literature prize, everyone enjoyed building the story and improvising what came next. It was a reminder that you are never really stuck, even when you have to follow “glockenspiel.” 

The group participating in an improv exercise with Judge Field.

As attorneys we’re often used to over-preparing, rehearsing, and thinking deeply about our next moves. Though it helps to prepare, Judge Field explained how being present, brave, flexible, and lighthearted can actually make us better advocates (and perhaps someday, judges!). If you’re interested in trying it out, there are several improv comedy clubs that host classes in Denver, Boulder, Fort Collins, and Colorado Springs. 


As a district court judge for almost eleven years, Judge Fields handled some of the most complex civil litigation and complicated divorce and custody cases in Northern Colorado. She retired from that position to bring her practical knowledge and experience directly to parties who need help solving problems. Specifically, when she’s not ab-libbing and improvising, Judge Field offers arbitration services and manages the Consilium Institute, which offers holistic and comprehensive support in divorce and family law matters. Her unique experience as a domestic relations judge, practitioner, comedian, mediator and law professor is unmatched by any other family law neutral in Northern Colorado.

 

Katherine Carroll helped compile this article from Amy West's notes. Katherine practices civil defense litigation. A New York native, she recently moved to Colorado after completing a clerkship with the Hon. Paula T. Dow in New Jersey Superior Court. Katherine received her J.D. from Touro University Law School in Central Islip, New York in 2022 and her Bachelors from the State University of New York at New Paltz in 2017. Prior to law school, she worked as a radio and television journalist in Albany, New York and New York City. While completing her J.D., Katherine worked with Mental Hygiene Legal Service representing individuals in civil commitment hearings and the Sexual Harassment Working Group researching and proposing policy to protect survivors of workplace sexual harassment. Katherine also wrote and served as a notes editor for the Touro Law Review. Katherine is a member of the Colorado Bar Association, Colorado Women's Bar Association, the National Association of Women Lawyers, and the American Bar Association. In her spare time, Katherine enjoys reading historical fiction novels, watching RuPaul's Drag Race, and going on hikes with her boyfriend and their dog, Moose. 






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Hi, Katherine! Thank you so much for sharing this. It was a fun event and I am so grateful to the Larimer County Women's Bar Association for putting this on for our members and others! By doing so, the LCWBA is demonstrating one of my improv lessons: Be brave and think creatively about programs that CWBA members can learn from!

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