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Everybody knows that lawyers like to talk a lot. So it’s not wholly surprising that a lawyer would have his own talk radio show. What’s surprising is that the show is actually about legal matters, a subject with decidedly less sex appeal than the typical talk-radio fare of rhetoric, gossip and gospel. But for a couple of months now, San Francisco’s radio waves have carried such legalese as “res ipsa loquitur” and “alternative dispute resolution.” The show, dubbed LawTalk, airs at 2 p.m. Saturdays on KYCY AM 1550, home to radio personalities Don Imus and Tom Lycus. Ian Zimmerman, a personal injury lawyer who hosts LawTalk, may not be as scandalous or salacious as his counterparts, but he’s in many ways a natural for the job. The 47-year-old with a slight New York accent has the gift of gab and is not afraid to get argumentative with recalcitrant guests on his show. “I’m not trying to be abrasive or a prick,” says Zimmerman. “I just want to get an answer. I don’t want these guys to give me their prepared speeches.” According to Zimmerman, the idea behind LawTalk is to discuss issues that are in the news from a legal standpoint. “People talk about abortion,” says Zimmerman. “You almost never hear the legal arguments, but those are the ones that are in control.” Each week, Zimmerman convenes a panel of legal experts, from attorneys to judges, who weigh in on a particular subject. Before the discussion begins, Zimmerman spends five to 10 minutes introducing the topic to listeners and outlining the general legal principles that apply. Once listeners are acquainted with the legal principles surrounding an issue, they have the basic tools to listen to — and take part in — the debate, says Zimmerman. Most legal concepts really aren’t that complicated, he believes. “They’re not going to know the whole history of precedent to justify their position,” he says, but they’ll be able to make an argument. The result is a show that’s enlightening to the lay person and interesting to the attorney. Recent topics have included gay adoption, bankruptcy and freedom of religion. So far, the concept seems to be working. While ratings for the show aren’t available yet, the number of call-ins has been encouraging, and there’s a good “buzz on the street,” says KYCY account executive Matthew Pearce. “Everybody has a legal problem or question of one sort or the other,” says Pearce. For Zimmerman, the biggest effect is that he’s essentially working two jobs. He starts preparing for Saturday’s show on Friday afternoon and reads up all through the night. Typically, it’s a 10-hour study session. “The last time I saw many of these areas of law was in a Bar review book some 20 years ago,” says Zimmerman. “It’s like studying for the Bar again every week.” Despite all the extra hours required, it’s clearly a labor of love for Zimmerman, especially since he’s doing the show pro bono. “I find it exhilarating,” he says. “There are problems with laws, there are problems with the system. I just want to have a fresh, intelligent conversation that avoids predictable or stereotypical responses.”

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