First Amendment Litigator Jean-Paul Jassy

I’m Very Drawn to Trees

Image by Aaron Salcido.

Jean-Paul Jassy is a litigator with an emphasis on disputes related to the media, internet, First Amendment, and entertainment. He has taught media and First Amendment law at University of Southern California Gould School of Law, UC Irvine School of Law and Southwestern University Law School. Before taking part in the Zócalo/ASU Cronkite School event “Does the First Amendment Still Protect Free Speech?,” he chatted in the green room about birch trees, the Stoic philosopher Epictetus, and his least favorite piece of legalese.

Q:

What’s your favorite condiment?


A:

Beaver’s Sweet Hot Mustard.


Q:

What's your guilty TV pleasure?


A:

I'm watching Euphoria. We can go with that.


Q:

If you could have any talent, what would it be?


A:

I'd love to be able to play guitar or sing or anything like that. Like a Paul McCartney kind of thing. That would be fun. Because I have no musical skills or talents at all.


Q:

Do you have a favorite plant?


A:

I love trees. My family kind of makes fun of me because every time I draw, I always draw a tree. And I get little things with logos of trees on it, things like that. But a particular kind of tree? I really like birch trees. I like the white bark. And then the way the leaves kind of shimmer.


Q:

You mentioned you draw? Are you an artist?


A:

I’m not. I like to draw sometimes, and I for some reason, I've always liked drawing trees. So I've got all these little sketches and drawings of trees. It’s relaxing. It's something that I've just enjoyed. But I don't know what I'm doing. I don't know how to mix oils and things like that.


Q:

Do you have a favorite piece of legalese?


A:

There's one that I don't like, which I think is really pompous. It’s when people say “govern yourself accordingly.” They’re ending a letter and they're saying something nasty, and then at the end, they say “govern yourself accordingly.” Sure.


Q:

How do you pass the time when you're stuck in traffic?


A:

I try to catch up with people if I can, because I work from home, so I’m not commuting a ton. So when I do commute in the car, it's a good opportunity to make phone calls. Since I started my firm a long time ago, I've tried to structure my life so that I can work from home more and not go into the office. It's made a huge difference in my life. It’s been great.


Q:

What's the last thing that inspired you?


A:

I really enjoyed reading a book by this ancient philosopher Epictetus. Somebody referred it to me, and I thought that it was well done. You realize even people way back then had the same problems in many ways that we do now. And they had ideas about how to approach them and how to approach life—not worry about the things that you can't do anything about, and just focus on the things you can do something about. I thought that was helpful.