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Throughout Roger Vosburg’s life, the urge to mimic had always welled up inside of him, only to be suppressed — first by school and then by the demands of building a successful litigation practice. When he discovered Sausalito, Calif.’s voiceover training school, Voicetrax, he saw an opportunity to use those urges to earn money. And he also found a way to escape from the burnout that was starting to get him after nearly 20 years as a litigator. “I’m doing stuff I used to get in trouble for doing in school,” says Vosburg, who now has an agent, is part of a voice actors’ union and has done radio “spots” for companies like Cisco, Quantum Shift, Pacific Laser Eye Center, Etrade and Mondo Media. His jobs have ranged from straight narration of financial software usage guides to impersonations of Walt Disney and Donny Osmond. And he’s also part of what Voicetrax director Samantha Paris calls a growing list of lawyers and judges who join her classes to learn how to sound more engaging. “It helps them become better communicators, on a more human, heartfelt level,” says Paris, who mentions Hastings College of the Law professor Evan Lee as an example. But Vosburg stands out from the others because he’s actually using his training to work as a professional voiceover artist. The income — roughly $350 per hour plus residuals — takes the pressure off his legal practice, which he’s since been able to shape into one he describes as local, low-key and gratifying. Vosburg says he never expected he’d be able to make a living out of doing voiceovers, and went into it for the fun of the training. It ended up enabling him to leave his law firm and his litigation practice in 1999, and open as a solo where he could work as little or as much as he pleased. “It’s so different from the law,” he says. “It’s so immediate, so in the moment. You don’t prepare, you just go with your gut and with your training and just have fun.” Prior to striking out on his own, Vosburg was the managing partner of the Marin, Calif., outpost of Berger, Kahn, Shafton, Moss, Figler, Simon & Gladstone, an 80-lawyer full-service Southern California firm. “It was a question of changing how I practiced law,” he says about going solo, adding that he’s much happier serving as adviser to small business owners than he was spending sleepless nights working on trials with big teams. “There’s some satisfaction in having something that’s really your own.” Though he admits that the first few months out on his own were a bit scary, he says his transactional practice now fills about 70 percent of his working time. The rest is spent on voiceover work. And true to Paris’ predictions, Vosburg says his training has helped make him a more effective lawyer. “I use the same lawyer skills, but I don’t sound like a lawyer, I sound like a person,” he says, adding that he’s felt better able to connect to his clients since training. “As lawyers we can be too damn guarded about what we say. … Sometimes it’s like you can’t sneeze without consulting the goddamn code of civil procedure.” He says his voiceover work has helped him loosen up, and that the enhanced communication skills make his interactions with other lawyers more effective. “We tend to get things done, and we’re not posturing,” he says. “But that doesn’t mean I break into strange character voices.”

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