Winning big verdicts at trial takes more than just having the facts in order. As a lawyer, you need to be at your best, ready to pivot to meet any new challenge as it arises. You are your clients’ champion, and you need to be battle-ready as soon as you step into the courtroom.
Kurt Zaner’s strict health regimen has helped him achieve some truly groundbreaking results for his clients. He secured the biggest premises liability verdict in the history of Colorado, and in 2017, he was recognized for getting two of the biggest verdicts of the year across all practice areas. Kurt has been named one of the Top 100 Trial Lawyers, Super Lawyers, Super Lawyers Rising Stars, and Top 3 Best Rated Denver Injury Lawyers.
This week, Kurt digs into the health routine he uses while he’s in trial to stay at his sharpest. We talk about some of his biggest verdicts and the Hollywood-worthy maneuvers that helped him win those cases. Discover the lessons Game of Thrones can teach us as trial lawyers and learn why you should consider taking an acting class on this week’s episode of Tip the Scales.
- Find the routines that keep you at your best. Kurt uses a combination of cold plunging, breathing techniques, and clean eating to keep him sharp during trial. Taking care of yourself can help you be on top of your game and get better results for your clients.
- Be a champion for your clients. As a lawyer, your job is often to fight for those who can’t fight for themselves. Remembering that responsibility can change how you approach cases, both in and out of the courtroom.
- Be authentically yourself. It can be easy to feel like you have to step into the role of “lawyer” as soon as you get in front of a jury. But when you allow yourself to be a person first and a lawyer second, you can better connect with a jury.
Kurt Zaner (00:00):
So I walk up to the witness and I said, and that your father passed away in 2018. That’s right. That’s right, sir. I go. The problem I have Mr. Heil, is that I have the obituary from the Boulder Daily camera in the coroner’s report that showed that this happened and your father passed away a year prior to the explosion. And I slid the paper across the table and silence in the room.
Maria Monroy (00:29):
Welcome to the Tip the Scales podcast, where we discuss running and growing your law firm. I’m Maria Monroy, president and co-founder of LawRank. And this week we are joined by Kurt Zaner. Oh my goodness, Kurt is so fun. Um, we talked about a lot of things. We kind of jumped all over the place, but we talked about being a champion for your clients and how, as a lawyer, your job is often to fight for those who can’t fight for themselves. Remembering that responsibility can change how you approach cases both in and out of the courtroom. We talked about being authentic. And I know that sometimes we hear this word, and it’s kind of cringe-worthy, but if you’ve ever met Kurt, you know that he is who he is, and he is very much authentic. And we talked about how it can be easy to feel like you have to step into the role of a “lawyer” as soon as you get in front of a jury.
Maria Monroy (01:24):
But when you allow yourself to be a person first and a lawyer second, you can better connect with a jury. We talked about finding the routines that keep you at your best. For example, Kurt uses a combination of cold plunging, breathing techniques, and clean eating to keep himself sharp during trial. And I know that this can be really hard for a lot of lawyers, because you guys are obsessing over this trial and not getting much sleep and just kind of, you know, working, working, working. But we talked about how taking care of yourself can help you be on top of your game and get better results for your clients. In fact, ever since Kurt and I talked about cold plunging, ’cause I’ve done it before, um, I’ve started using cold exposure almost every single day to help with my anxiety. And I am so happy to report that it’s helped so much. I cannot encourage you guys more to, like, seriously try it. Even just cold showers. Seriously, for me, they have been life-changing. Maybe it’s a placebo effect, but I don’t even care. Anyways, I hope you guys enjoy this episode. Well, thank you so much for joining me today.
Kurt Zaner (02:34):
Thanks for having me.
Maria Monroy (02:35):
I appreciate it. I know you’re very busy.
Kurt Zaner (02:37):
I think, you know, I do feel busy all the time, but everybody’s busy. Life is busy. How do you get away from the busyness? I don’t know.
Maria Monroy (02:43):
I like the busyness. Do you?
Kurt Zaner (02:45):
I don’t really. I don’t know. I wish things would calm down a little bit. But I feel like if I’m busy, I get more done. So it’s kind of, it’s kind of a double-edged sword like that. I don’t like it, but I know I’m the most efficient when there’s a lot to do.
Maria Monroy (03:00):
It makes sense. And you were just — I just watched you do a cold plunge.
Kurt Zaner (03:05):
I did do a cold plunge. Cold plunge is amazing. Uh, Wim Hof, uh — Maybe you know him. Maybe the listeners know him. He’s a guru. But don’t call him a guru, ’cause he doesn’t want to be called a guru. But he is a Dutch guy who — Very, very sad story actually. Um, his wife, uh, killed herself. Kissed her kids goodbye and jumped out of a hotel window. Um, and he began a quest to find a way to help people with mental health that’s not pharmacological. There’s a way to give us a fuller life, a happier life, a life that can bring us purpose. And he finds that accessing the cold is the key to all of it. Um, he recommends cold plunging every day. And when you do it, you feel alive. You feel the blood is flowing. This mental clarity comes over you. And for me, the biggest part, and this ties back into being a lawyer, is the anxiety dials down.
Kurt Zaner (04:00):
I mean, there’s — talking about being busy. You know, part of the business that I don’t like is all the anxiety that comes along with it. I’ve got to write all these legal briefs. I have to get ready for trial. I have to run a law firm. I have to be a good dad, a good husband, a good friend. If I have time for friends, they come last. And it’s like, it’s, it’s overwhelming at times. Um, the hardest part for me is getting out of the bed in the beginning of the day. Once I’m going, I’m going, but, uh, getting out of bed is the hardest. And if I have this plan — I have my cold plunge ready to go in the morning. That’s how we get going. And it’s just, it changes everything so much so that if I don’t cold plunge, uh, that anxiety creeps up when you can — There’s a marked and noticeable difference.
Maria Monroy (04:41):
Kurt Zaner (04:42):
The other part, though, about Wim Hof — It’s not just cold exposure, it’s also the breathing.
Maria Monroy (04:45):
Kurt Zaner (04:46)
Right. It’s about —
Maria Monroy (04:47):
I’ve done it.
Kurt Zaner (04:48):
Oxygenating your, your cells, and so you get all the acidity out, um, and you become what he calls fully alkaline. And that’s getting — It’s like going into, uh, an oxygen chamber. You know, you see that some of these cryo places you can go in, and, and this has the same short-term effect. So, and I’ve fallen back on that lately. I need to get back into it. And then the third prong of Wim Hof — and it’s three — is that then, once you’ve mastered those two things, you get to this ability to control your autonomic nervous system.
Maria Monroy (05:16):
Kurt Zaner (05:17):
Which is not supposed to be conscious. It’s supposed to be subconscious. And so that’s where I want to get with it. Um, I’ve been working on it for two years. I think I’m ready to take the next step. Uh, and it’s a big part of just how I destress as a lawyer — bringing it back to what we’re here to talk about today — is that it helps me get through, um, the regular day. It’s really important during trial for me.
Maria Monroy (05:34):
Have you worked with a Wim Hof instructor?
Kurt Zaner (05:37):
I have not. You know, he’s got a great app and great videos and so, it really just lays it out for you. So no, I haven’t.
Maria Monroy (05:44):
See, I’ve done the opposite. I haven’t done the app, but I went to this retreat where they had an instructor. Um, and that’s where I learned about it. And what I find the most fascinating is that when you jump into a cold plunge, if you control your breathing, you will warm up. Like your body will warm itself up. But if you can’t control your breathing, that’s when you can get really cold. And that’s where it can actually be dangerous.
Kurt Zaner (06:04):
Right. Right. And hypothermia can sit in. All those sorts of scary things.
Maria Monroy (06:07):
Kurt Zaner (06:08):
So, yeah. I mean, and when, when Wim goes in, he can go in for as long as he wants, and he raises his body temperature. You know, all the studies are great. I remember I listened to a podcast — we’re on a podcast now — and that’s how I was introduced to him. And I was just, like, blown away. And I’m like, “I want to try this.” And then every little step — We have a big trial coming up. Uh, it’s going to be the longest trial I’ve ever done. It’s going to be five weeks long, massive toxic tort case.
Maria Monroy (06:28):
Kurt Zaner (06:29):
It’s, like, millions of pages of documents. There must have been — and this is not hyperbole — sixty depositions, if not more. The most expensive case I’ve ever been a part of. The most terrible damages. People are getting cancer and losing limbs.
Kurt Zaner (06:41):
I mean, it’s got everything out of a Hollywood script. It’s incredibly sad. Our client’s the most injured person I’ve ever met. Uh, there’s other plaintiffs. It’s a twelve-plaintiff trial. We have other lawyers involved. Uh, a very famous trial lawyer is about to enter his appearance and try it with us on behalf of some other plaintiffs. I mean, it’s got everything. And so we’ve been thinking long and hard about what we’re going to do for our re— our staying purposes, for, like, our, our, our residences. And I need a cold plunge for that long. And so we’re going to — We’re going to get a house, and then bring the barrel, and we’re going to —
Maria Monroy (07:10):
Where’s this at?
Kurt Zaner (07:11):
It’s, it’s in Lakewood, Colorado. Yeah. Which is like — It’s, like, a suburb of Denver, right at the foot of the foothills. There’s a plant there that sterilizes medical equipment, and they use something called ethylene oxide. Um, it’s a chemical that is carcinogenic. It’s immunogenic. And that’s why they use it, because it sterilizes medical equipment, and it kills all the microbes on that equipment. The problem is, as we’ve alleged and others around the country have, is that these plants don’t do a very good job of controlling those emissions. And so after they blast the product with the ethylene oxide, it has to go somewhere. And there’s ways to control it. But a lot of these plants have allowed, in our opinion, our allegations, too much of it to get out into the environment and infect — it’s not really the right word, but, um, you know — disperse into the community. It’s odorless; it’s colorless. People breathing it in have no idea. And over the course of many years of living close to this plant, playing at parks, going to school —
Maria Monroy (08:08):
Oh my God.
Kurt Zaner (08:09):
They’re going to be absorbing this into their bloodstream through their lungs. And then studies have shown that it causes certain kinds of cancers. So I need my cold plunge to get through that trial, otherwise I’m not going to make it.
Maria Monroy (08:18):
So what are you going to do? You’re going to take one, like the one you have here?
Kurt Zaner (08:20):
I think so, yeah. I’m, I think so. Although I have one in my house that I just bought, that refrigerates itself. It’s got the whole compressor in it. So I might bring that if I can figure out a way to transport it. So yeah, one, one of the two. We’re going to have some cold plunging on on site.
Maria Monroy (08:33):
Kurt Zaner (08:34):
It is amazing. I can’t think of doing a trial any other way. In fact, it was so funny, when I discovered Wim Hof, I’d already tried a bunch of cases. But I think I was talking to one of the lawyers at my firm, and she’s like, you know, “I, this case is really hard. I don’t know if we’re going to be able to win at trial — You know, the last case was a lot easier.” And I was like, “Yeah, but in the last case we didn’t have Wim Hof.” All right, now I’m breathing, I’m cold plunging. My clarity is, like, exponentially higher. I’m way more lethal in the courtroom, because that’s what can stop you in the courtroom, right? And if you got your — And I get nervous like everybody else. You let your nerves get the best of you, or you get bogged down, and you can’t think clearly.
Kurt Zaner (09:11):
And so I have a very strict diet when I go to trial. You know, I’m eating not that different than how I eat usually. ‘Cause I eat really clean anyway. But in trial, it’s always salads for lunch. I don’t want any carbs, any bread weighing me down. Because when you see these jurors come back after lunch, and they’re falling asleep, ’cause they just had a big sandwich and some chips, you know. So I eat really clean. I’ve got to have really clean, uh, health habits. I need to exercise, and if I can call in this new element of cold plunging and breathing, it’s like now I’m just firing on all cylinders all day long. Which —
Maria Monroy (09:39):
What about sleep? Do you get much sleep?
Kurt Zaner (09:41):
I don’t get as much sleep as I, I would like to, you know.
Maria Monroy (09:43):
I knew you were going to say that.
Kurt Zaner (09:43):
It’s so hard. I mean there’s, there’s two kinds of trialers out there. There are those that, like, have a beer after, you know, after the day of trial and then just go back at it. And there’s guys that just keep working until they literally pass out. And I think it’s — And I’m the latter. You know, sometimes I wish I could just have a beer and chill out, but I won’t drink any alcohol for the weeks leading up, ’cause I want ha— I need every mental advantage I can get. And I want — I, I feel like if I drink alcohol, four or five days later, I still may be a little slower. Maybe it’s just my own psychological thought on it. But, um, I won’t drink alcohol. I’ll eat really clean, I’ll exercise, and I will work until I can’t keep my eyes open. Usually I get about five hours of sleep a night, and I’m an eight-hour-a-night person usually. So —
Maria Monroy (10:25):
That’s what I am.
Kurt Zaner (10:25):
Maria Monroy (10:26):
Eight to nine. I love my sleep.
Kurt Zaner (10:28):
Yeah. Yeah. Nine —
Maria Monroy (10:29):
And I’m a different person when I don’t sleep.
Kurt Zaner (10:31):
I was asleep last night at 8:55 PM for the seminar.
Maria Monroy (10:34):
That’s, that’s great.
Kurt Zaner (10:35):
‘Cause I can’t, I — If I have to talk all day — I’m here giving lectures, talking about Cicero and how to give opening statements and doing this. And, like, I don’t want to be sluggish. I don’t want to be tired. So I just — It’s got to be — I, I can’t afford to lose any, any, any margin of, of efficiency. I’ve got to be hitting on all cylinders.
Maria Monroy (10:52):
Tell us about some of your verdicts for those listening that don’t know who you are.
Kurt Zaner (10:56):
Sure, yeah. Um, you know my, I’ve had a couple of nice verdicts, a handful, maybe a couple handful. Um, been very blessed to find some success in the courtroom. Uh, I feel like a lot of the cases we had early on were cases that nobody else wanted, ’cause they were hard. You know, we had our first case — Our first big verdict, um, was this young man from Iraq. He had — Iraqi immigrants, really sad story. They, like, fled, in the middle of the night, Saddam Hussein’s regime. And he was going — He was 25 years old. He was driving 88 miles per hour on a city road that was a 40-mile-per-hour road. And, um, it’s all on video, and some guy turns left in front of him. Um, so he’s zipping down, and some guy turns left in front of the guy on the motorcycle, and our guy just smashes right into the back of the SUV.
Kurt Zaner (11:39):
It’s, like, the, the window behind the driver. So that passenger, rear passenger window, his head crashes into it, and then the helmet falls into the seat. There’s actually someone sitting in that seat. So my guy’s head crashes into someone else’s head. Gives that guy a brain injury. My guy’s helmet falls off. He falls back into the road, and he dies. Um, very tragic story. And the driver just kept driving. Didn’t even, like, come to a full stop. He goes three blocks down the road, and he looks at his buddy behind him, who was dripping in blood, ’cause my guy’s head smashed into it. And he looks at his buddy next to him. And he looks at the six beer bottles. The little bottle of vodka. The marijuana pipe. And he runs. He runs seventeen miles on two broken ribs. Watches himself on the news that night.
Kurt Zaner (12:24):
Googles how long alcohol stays in your system with his dad. Waits three days. Interviews two lawyers, and then turns himself in. And they never charged him with causing the crash because my guy was going 88 miles per hour, and they had no evidence of this kid being intoxicated. So no one wanted this case. We took it, and we won at trial. We got a two-and-a half-million-dollar verdict, and we got — In Colorado, it’s a 50/50 state. So they put some blame on our guy, obviously. Um, but um, we only had him put up 45 percent. So we won. And it was, uh, it was great for the family. The mom is a very devout Muslim. They were just wonderful people. They would invite us into their house during the, the month of Ramadan while they’re fasting, and they’re cooking us all these, like, great meals.
Kurt Zaner (13:05):
Me and my law partner. Just wonderful people. And she didn’t want me to ask for any money in closing, because to her, Gafar, her son, was looking down in heaven, and she didn’t want him to hear that we were putting a price on his life. And so we didn’t ask for money. You know, we asked for money. We didn’t put a dollar amount on it. And that was, like, our first big trial and just, like, rollercoaster of emotions. Every morning before the trial, I would watch this scene from Game of Thrones. Are you a Game of Thrones fan?
Maria Monroy (13:32):
Kurt Zaner (13:33):
So there’s the, my, the — My favorite scene of the eight, eight seasons — Is it eight seasons?
Maria Monroy (13:37):
There’s a lot of seasons.
Kurt Zaner (13:38):
Well, everyone always forgets about the last one, right? They don’t like to talk about that one.
Maria Monroy (13:41):
Yeah. Nobody liked that one.
Kurt Zaner (13:41):
No. It’s — How do you, how do you tie up a show like that?
Maria Monroy (13:44):
That and — That, that’s what my husband said. He was like, “There’s just no good way to end it”.
Kurt Zaner (13:47):
You’re not going to please everybody.
Maria Monroy (13:49):
Kurt Zaner (13:50):
So anyway, there’s a scene between Tyrion and Prince Oberyn, the Viper of Dorne. So Tyrion, he’s a little person. He’s the best character in the whole show. And he is in a dungeon, because he’s been arrested for allegedly killing his nephew, the king. And so his sister hates him, has always hated him. It’s her son that he killed, allegedly. And he knows he won’t get a fair trial and so — Not as great of a system of justice as we have in America. And so he demands a trial by combat, and that’s where he can choose a champion to fight on his behalf. Um, and so he says trial by combat. He can’t fight for himself. He’s a little person; he’ll get destroyed. Um, not that little people can’t fight, but in this particular character, he would not win because he was facing The Mountain. Right? Ser Gregor Clegane, who’s the biggest guy, the scariest guy in all of Westeros. And so Tyrion is rotting in this dungeon, and the Viper of Dorne shows up, and the Viper of Dorne is a very enigmatic character. Uh, he hates Tyrion and his whole family, the Lannisters, ’cause he believes that Tyrion’s dad had his, had the Prince — the Viper of Dorne’s sister killed, um, by none other than The Mountain. So, uh — who’s the guy that Tyrion has to fight for trial by combat.
Maria Monroy (15:03):
And if this sounds complicated, this is, like, nothing.
Kurt Zaner (15:05):
This is nothing. It’s nothing. And so we, we’ll — I won’t get too granular on it. Maybe I already have. But the Viper of Dorne shows up in Tyrion’s jail cell, and Tyrion’s like, “What are you doing here?” He’s like, “You know, this is not the first time we met.” He’s like, “Well what do you mean?” He’s like, “You were just a baby.” And uh, he’s like, “Well, I don’t remember.” He’s like, “Yeah,” he’s like “Your sister. She told us that there was, uh — She had a brother, and he was a monster with one red eye and a claw. And he killed my mother. He killed my mother when he was born, and I want him to die.” And so he said, “We were all excited to see this monster of a baby. And Cersei and Jamie, your brother, took us over there, and they opened up the crib, and it unveiled the monster.
Kurt Zaner (15:44):
“But you were not a monster. You were just a baby. Your head was a bit too big, and your feet a bit too small, but you were just a little kid.” Uh, and then he’s like — and Tyrion’s, like, crying. He doesn’t know about the story and, like, Cersei was doing terrible things to him as a baby. And, and he’s like, he’s like, “And I want some justice.” And Tyrion’s like, “Well, if you want justice, you’ve come to the wrong place.” And he is like, “I disagree.” And he wanted, what he really wanted was to fight The Mountain. And so this was an opportunity, and he’s like, “Tyrion, I will be your champion.” And this was, like, overwhelming for Tyrion, ’cause he’s about to die, and no one’s going to fight for him. And the Viper of Dorne is, like, this, this renowned fighter in all of Westeros.
Kurt Zaner (16:27):
If anyone can beat The Mountain, maybe it’s him. And he comes to Tyrion’s side and — to rescue him, and he will be his champion and will fight for him when he can’t fight for himself. And that’s what we do as lawyers, as trial lawyers. We have these injured clients that cannot fight for themselves, and they need a champion who’s skilled, who is dangerous, who is confident, who is unafraid to go in and take on these giant corporations, uh, the, and, and take them down. And so that’s what we are to our clients. We are their champion. And this mother, this Iraqi mother, I knew I had to be her champion. So I’d watch it every morning before trial, and it would motivate me to get through it and to go kick some ass.
Maria Monroy (17:08):
Wow, that’s awesome.
Kurt Zaner (17:10):
So I have a sign in my my office. “I will be your champion” etched in, like, wood and, like, old Game of Thrones lettering. You know, I got swords everywhere. You know, it’s, uh, I’m — That’s an important lesson, I think. We’re talking about your listeners, and people want to be trial lawyers. Like, you’ve got to be authentic. You’ve got to be you. That’s the most important thing. Whether you’re in front of a jury, meeting a client, wherever you are, just always be you. So number one, find out who you are. I think that’s really important. It’s hard to do sometimes, but then, like, don’t try and be, you know, Nick Rowley. Don’t try and be uh, you know, John Romano and Mark Lanier. Just be the best you, and if you can be you — And I feel like I live my authenticity, and it’s a bit much, you know. Here I am in sandals, and I got a sword on my lapel, and I got, you know, a ring of a Bushido and a, and a Renaissance cross.
Kurt Zaner (17:55):
But that’s who I am. And uh, I don’t worry about what others will think. I tone it down a little bit for trial. But being and knowing your authentic self, I think, is how you can really do a great service for your clients and succeed as a trial lawyer. Because that’s, that’s what people crave. They crave authenticity. Uh, and, and, and I had a speech this morning, and I was like, “Raise your hand in this room if you like lawyers.” I was like, “Put your hands down; you’re lying. Nobody likes lawyers.” Well, we have to be as humans, not lawyers. Lawyers are one of the most despised professions, and sometimes for good reason. They don’t understand what we do. We do — Our kind of lawyer does one of the greatest things I think you can do in being other people’s champion. But we’ve got to be humans. I can’t, we can’t be lawyers.
Maria Monroy (18:35):
I don’t know you very well, but if I were to guess, I think you are very much you. Like, I have never gotten the sense that I, that you’re not you. You are very much you.
Kurt Zaner (18:45):
Thank you. Thank you.
Maria Monroy (18:46):
Yes. I can see that for sure.
Kurt Zaner (18:48):
We, we all have to be ourselves. So that’s, that, that’s a good starting point. But other verdicts, you said. What else? What else can I tell you about? Our biggest verdict was a $16 million verdict. Um, that was the largest, uh, premises liability verdict in Colorado history.
Maria Monroy (18:59):
Kurt Zaner (19:00):
Um, so that’s good. And you know, it’s a big number. It’s a ginormous number. We’re looking for a bigger one this summer.
Maria Monroy (19:05):
I’m sure you are. I don’t doubt it.
Kurt Zaner (19:05):
But, uh, but it was, um, it was a really, it was a really sad case. I’ve become very familiar with something called complex regional pain syndrome and also electrocution cases. That’s what happened here. Our client was installing a floor in a house that was being built, and the flooring installers kind of come last, right before the electricians come in. So they have to get power from a temporary power box. It’s outside the house. It’s called a temporary pedestal. And he went to plug in his machine, and it exploded.
Maria Monroy (19:33):
Oh my God.
Kurt Zaner (19:34):
And no one really knows what happened. Uh, because the company, after the, exploded — the temporary pedestal — uh, and they knew that Brian was injured, they threw the box away. They threw the temporary pedestal away. So we had no evidence, um, which was challenging. So challenging that the lawyer that had the case before us withdrew two months before the statute ran.
Kurt Zaner (19:55):
And so Brian comes to us with no lawyer, and he’s got what’s called complex regional pain syndrome. And I knew nothing about it, but he was a sweetheart of a kid — not a kid. He was 33 at the time, three young, young boys of his own. And he was just, you know, he’s like, “I can’t, I can’t throw a ball with my kids anymore. And, you know, I grew up playing baseball. This is, like, my thing. I can’t wrestle with them.”
Maria Monroy (20:16):
It’s the little things.
Kurt Zaner (20:17):
It’s, it’s the little things, you know, that — You know, I have three boys of my own. I didn’t at the time, but now it even hits, it even hits harder. And so I said, “Brian, we’re going to find a way to win.” And we did. We did. We did all this crazy briefing, and we got a a spoliation sanction.
Kurt Zaner (20:32):
Uh, and so that means when you destroy evidence, right? And when they shouldn’t. And so we got the judge to issue an order, which is she gave us a rebuttable presumption of causation and liability, meaning the jury had to assume that because Excel destroyed the box and then lied about how they destroyed it. Um, the jury has to give them at least 1 percent fault for creating a dangerous box and for causing his injuries. Now, they had all their defenses left to them. They blamed Brian for going in there and doing something to the box that caused an explosion. They said he wasn’t that injured. They had all their defenses. They could have won. And by the jury only assigning 1 percent blame to them and 99 percent to Brian. Um, but we convinced them otherwise. And uh, the jury came back with a $16 million verdict. The jury was so kind and fell so in love with Brian that I literally got a call, like, a month later from one of the jurors. She looked me up, and she’s like, “Is Brian getting that money? Because he needs it. And did we give him enough?”
Maria Monroy (21:31):
Oh my god.
Kurt Zaner (21:32):
And it was like — I mean they, they, they love this kid, uh, this guy. And then they called him.
Maria Monroy (21:36):
I mean, 30, that’s kiddish.
Kurt Zaner (21:38):
You know, it was like, so it was just, um, this was just life changing for him. We ended up — they appealed it. We went to the court of appeals. I got —
Maria Monroy (21:46):
Kurt Zaner (21:47):
Oh yeah, I got to argue in front of the court of appeals. Um, which was a lot of fun. And unfortunately it was during COVID, so it was just, you know, on, on, on Zoom. But we got a sixty-page published opinion. It’s now the seminal case in Colorado on spoliation and what you can do to a party if they destroy evidence when they shouldn’t. And so this ride-off-in-the-sunset kind of thing. Brian still has CRPS, obviously, so it’s — He’s not riding off on the sunset for him, but life is more comfortable for him now. Um, and there’s this, there’s this great moment. Can I, can I give you one trial story from there?
Maria Monroy (22:17):
Yeah, keep going.
Kurt Zaner (22:16):
I think it’s really — I think it’s, it’s probably the best trial story that I’ve ever told. I’m sure I’ve heard better ones. Anyway, here’s what’s going on. They destroyed this box, as I said, the box, the electrical box. And they kept lying to everyone. They told different people at different times that they destroyed it at different times and how they destroyed it. They also told different stories. I called it a moving fiction. Depending on who was asking, they would change their story. “Hey, we’re the worker’s comp folks. Do you have that box?” “Yeah, we got it in the back.” “Okay.” Three months later, someone else asked for the box. “Oh, we threw that out months and months and months ago.” And then we get to court and they’re like, “We destroyed it six months afterwards, pursuant to our company policy,” which didn’t exist. So usually, like, for a spoliation sanction, you have to show the court they destroyed it when litigation was reasonably foreseeable. So usually, you know when they’ve destroyed it. But because they kept lying about it, we don’t know when they destroyed it. So the analysis was very difficult to do. So we get to trial —
Maria Monroy (23:12):
Do you think that that was intentional, or do you think they’re just idiots?
Kurt Zaner (23:16):
In my heart of hearts?
Maria Monroy (23:17):
Kurt Zaner (23:18):
I think that was intentional.
Maria Monroy (23:19):
Kurt Zaner (23:20):
They knew it injured somebody. They knew that it was melted. So it was a really severe explosion, and they didn’t want to get in trouble for it.
Maria Monroy (23:27):
So you think they destroyed it right away, and they just kept lying about it?
Kurt Zaner (23:30):
Yeah. And we had audio from, like, when worker’s comp called them, and he just sounds like he’s lying. “Well, I think it’s back there somewhere,” and it just seems really shady. So the court punished them more for lying than for destroying it. Um, because we couldn’t figure out when they destroyed it. So we get to court — here’s the story — and in opening statement — It’s a big deal, obviously, when they destroyed it, and the lawyer gets up and she’s like, “The reason that this box was destroyed in 2018 was because their father had just passed away. It was a family business,” the defense. “Um, and their father was the patriarch of the company. And so it was difficult times. He was in hospice, and he died.”
Maria Monroy (24:08):
What does that have to do with the box being destroyed?
Kurt Zaner (24:09):
Because that’s why they couldn’t remember exactly when they destroyed it, because it was right when the father died. And so that’s why they got confused in telling different people different stories. ‘Cause it was just a difficult time of grieving for them that clouded their ability to remember and what they were doing.
Maria Monroy (24:26):
Kurt Zaner (24:27):
It’s not bad. It’s not good. You know, it’s, it — As a human, you sympathize. You’re like, that’s —
Maria Monroy (24:32):
Absolutely, I mean that, that sucks, but —
Kurt Zaner (24:32):
I can imagine. Well, here’s the problem. Uh, Sarah, who was trying the case with me, Sarah McCarran, she’s like, you know, “I’m going to take a look into this.” And lo and behold, she goes and looks at the, uh, obituaries in the local paper and finds a coroner report. And the father didn’t die the year of the explosion. He died a year before the explosion. So that was —
Maria Monroy (24:54):
I mean, I also feel like that’s just, like, bad karma.
Kurt Zaner (24:57):
It’s bad karma. So —
Maria Monroy (24:58):
Like, to use your father’s death to, and to — I mean, they’re lying. I mean that was, like, so was everything they were doing, like their judgment was, I mean, I don’t know. Like where do you draw the line?
Kurt Zaner (25:08):
Right. You lose all credibility. When you’re going to lie about that, you know, you lie about anything. I mean, one of the most like, you know, intimate, you know, tragic things that can happen in your life. And so we go to court, and, you know, they say this in opening statement, and then we have a whole strategy pinned out and what we’re going to do. And uh, of course the, the defendants get up and they’re like, “But our father died.” And that’s why I go, “I know, I know your — I heard that in opening. I’m sure your lawyer’s going to want to ask about that. I, I’m not really that interested in right now,” because what we wanted to do was we wanted to end that witness’s testimony with this line of questions. And I knew that the other lawyer would bring it up. So we call him in our case in chief and cross-examine him, then they call him, and then we get to go after that.
Kurt Zaner (25:45):
It’s kind of like a redirect recross. And then the judge doesn’t allow anything after that, which is great. So a guy, so when, when he goes up — When, when their lawyer goes up and asks him about the father, of course, he, like, lays it on thick, and then I come back, I’m like, “All right. You know, Mr. Heil, I just, I just have a one more line of questions. It’s about your father. I heard about him again here during your testimony. I know it must be difficult. Do I have your permission to ask you what happened and about your father?” “Yes, sir. I understand. Of course you do.” “Thanks. I have a job to do.” “I understand.” I said, “Now, you testified that he passed away in 2018, and that’s why everything was so clouded and you can’t remember when you destroyed it.” “That’s right, that’s right.”
Kurt Zaner (26:21):
“Uh, your honor, may I approach?” “Uh, yes, you may.” I don’t know if I did this right, even. I was, like, so nervous. I was so excited. So we had these, these two documents and, like, I go, “I’d like to approach the witness,” and I go, “I have these two documents, sir.” And I go back and I grab both documents and, like, my whole team knows. We’re all waiting for this, right? We’re going to drop this bomb. And everyone’s like, “Woo!” Pins and needles. The tech guy’s laughing. “Well, how’s this going to play out?” Tech guy’s over there whispering to somebody else. Defense counsel’s like, “What’s he doing? These aren’t marked exhibits. What’s happening?” And I can see him, out of the corner of my eye, scoping me out. And so I walk up to the witness and I said, “And that, your father passed away in 2018.” “That’s right.
Kurt Zaner (26:53):
That’s right, sir.” I go, “The problem I have, Mr. Heil, is that I have the obituary from the Boulder Daily Camera and the coroner’s report that show that this happened, and your father passed away a year prior to the explosion.” And I slid the paper across the table. And there was silence in the room. He looks down at the paper. He looks up at me, confused. He looks down at the paper. He looks up at his, at his lawyer, starting to panic. He looks down at the paper. He looks back at me. He goes, “That’s absolutely right.” And I was like, “No further questions, your honor.” He starts, the witness is like, “But wait, your Honor, I want to —“ She goes, “There are no questions pending, sir. Go back to your counsel’s table.” He walks back. I walked back. They, they offer the full policy limits later that day. $3 million.
Maria Monroy (27:42):
But, but I don’t get it. Like, I am, like, very confused because, like, what do they think? That you weren’t going to check?
Kurt Zaner (27:48):
I know, I know. Well, I don’t think, I don’t think the defense lawyer knew. I think that she felt betrayed by her client for lying to her.
Maria Monroy (27:55):
Oh. But, like, even the client — Like, you would think, like, or —But I guess people just —
Kurt Zaner (28:00):
They just assume. We, we — And, and so, you know, this is in 2018, and I was, like — In closing, I was like, “Look, we live in a, in, in a post, a post-truth world. You know, everyone has their own truth now. And then, you know, it’s like, facts still matter in the courtroom. You know, you can’t just say what you want and pretend that’s true. And that’s why lawyers are here to hold people accountable. That’s why juries are here, to hold corporations accountable.”
Maria Monroy (28:22):
And that’s — Wait, sorry. So let’s go back. But, and that was the end of, like, that was it? That was the last question? Or there was more?
Kurt Zaner (28:26):
No, that was, that was the last question for that witness. And then he was done. And they never called them in their case in chief. They just, I mean, if you —
Maria Monroy (28:32):
That’s still really great. That’s where it ended.
Kurt Zaner (28:33):
That’s where it ended. And well then we had, then we had a few more witnesses the next week, but that was —
Maria Monroy (28:36):
But for him, he didn’t get to say anything else.
Kurt Zaner (28:39):
Yes. Never came back on the stand.
Maria Monroy (28:40):
And you did it strategically. Like, “I’m not going to ask about it until I know they bring it up then I —“ That’s, that was cool.
Kurt Zaner (28:45):
That’s exactly right. That’s exactly right. And I think, uh, you know, between you, me and the listeners, uh, I think the, uh, I think the lawyer kind of gave up after that. I think she felt really betrayed by the client. Um, and she later on remarked to me, she’s like, you know, “It was a pretty cool Matlock moment you had there.”
Maria Monroy (29:01):
No, that is really, really cool.
Kurt Zaner (29:03):
So that was a bit, that was a fun one. We had another electrocution case. Um, we kind of developed this niche for electrocutions and CRPS because they —
Maria Monroy (29:11):
But how do you get these cases?
Kurt Zaner (29:13):
So the second one we got was ’cause they heard about this first one.
Maria Monroy (29:16):
Um, so they really, like, started researching.
Kurt Zaner (29:18):
They started researching and they’re like, “Hey.” Uh, it was, like, a week after the trial. He was like, “I got this electrocution CRPS case, Kurt, and maybe you can help me with it.” I gave him some tips, you know, and then a year later he is like, “We’ve got to file the case,” you know.
Maria Monroy (29:30):
Wait, what is it called?
Kurt Zaner (29:31):
CRPS. So it’s Complex Regional Pain Syndrome.
Maria Monroy (29:33):
Do you have a page on your website about this?
Kurt Zaner (29:35):
I do. I do. People call it “crips.” Um, it’s, it’s really, it’s, it’s terrible. What happens is you have an autonomic nervous system. We talked about that earlier.
Maria Monroy (29:42):
Kurt Zaner (29:43):
And that carries sensations like cold and heat and fight or flight. It just happens, regulates all, you know, without your, any thought. It’s subconscious. What happens when you get CRPS is, for some reason, it starts carrying pain signals all the time. And then it starts spreading to your other limbs. And in really bad cases of CRPS, your extremities can turn blue. Um, and so the worst symptoms of CRPS are something called allodynia. That’s where, like, something that shouldn’t cause any pain causes immense pain. Like, people with bad CRPS can’t take showers. They can’t sleep with any bedsheets on them, because the slightest touch causes severe pain.
Maria Monroy (30:22):
And there’s no cure?
Kurt Zaner (30:23):
There’s no cure.
Maria Monroy (30:24):
Any medicine for symptoms?
Kurt Zaner (30:25):
No. So what they do is they — They can do injections of ketamine and other pain meds. And if they do it early enough, the hope is that it will, it will stop it and and reverse it, or at least stop it from spreading. That doesn’t usually happen. So then they can do more injections just for relief. But it only lasts so long. Our client got fifty-three injections before the doctor’s like, “Okay, we can’t, we can’t give you any more.” The only solutions — and they’re not solutions — are ketamine infusions. Right? Where you go into the hospital for six hours at a time, and they infuse ketamine into you. The downside is you may have, uh, a break with reality and suffer psychosis, ’cause it’s a hallucinogenic. So it’s not a perfect cure. Or neurostimulators. They put it into your spine to help distract you from the pain. But there is no — I’ve had clients amputate their legs.
Maria Monroy (31:10):
I mean, this is awful.
Kurt Zaner (31:11):
It’s one of the worst.
Maria Monroy (31:12):
Because it’s just, like — I mean, anytime I’ve ever had any sort of pain, I’m like, “I am so happy that I don’t live with this.” Because it, like, completely changes your perception of life.
Kurt Zaner (31:22):
That’s exactly right.
Maria Monroy (31:22):
Like, like, even just, like, a cold. I’m like, and I — This is something I actually think about when I’m sick. I’m, like, nothing. Like, we take it for granted. We’re always like, “Oh, health comes first.” But, like, it really, truly comes first, because you can’t function if you don’t feel well. I can’t imagine pain randomly all the time for no, like, good reason.
Kurt Zaner (31:42):
No, no, no triggers. Nothing you can predict. It’s just keep — And then, and, and what happens is, it’s like, you ever go hiking on a trail —
Maria Monroy (31:49):
Kurt Zaner (31:50):
Right? So trails that have been well-hiked, the grooves in the trail get deeper and deeper. And so that’s what happens with CRPS along your nervous system is, as the pain keeps going, it creates a groove and a trail so that, like, it starts to go all the time now. There’s less resistance. So the pain keeps shooting.
Maria Monroy (32:04):
Could it kill you?
Kurt Zaner (32:05):
It doesn’t kill you. Um, it just makes your life miserable.
Maria Monroy (32:08):
Yeah. Living hell. Are you kidding?
Kurt Zaner (32:09):
There’s all this — You know, one of my clients amputated his leg, um — Different from these two clients. And some doctors recommend that; some doctors don’t. That, that, that client has now had to amputate above the knee now, because it’s just gotten worse. I mean, there’s a, there’s no good solution for it. And not a lot of lawyers understand it. Not, not a lot of doctors understand it. It used to be called, um, like RS, RSV, RSD, um, and now they, now they call it CRPS or CRPS 1, CRPS 2. There’s objective tests that you now have for it, which are important, because defense lawyers like to say, “Ah, the person’s crazy. It’s all in their head.” But now we’ve got — They do, like, sweat tests, because it’s a heat thing and, and they do thermal imaging —
Maria Monroy (32:52):
And it’s, it’s electrocution that causes it?
Kurt Zaner (32:54):
Electrocution is one of the causes. I mean you can — I don’t want to freak you out. You can get it from, like, rolling your ankle. Um —
Maria Monroy (33:01):
Kurt Zaner (33:02):
Yeah, yeah. Every time I get hurt I’m like, “Oh —.” But it’s — I mean, it can be something benign, um, that you wouldn’t think would cause something terrible.
Maria Monroy (33:08):
Okay. Wait, so now I have, I have another question for you. I feel like every time I see you, you’re doing something kind of crazy, like a cold plunge or karaoke, but, like, you go all out when you do karaoke.
Kurt Zaner (33:19):
I do go all out when I do karaoke. I’m not — You know, it’s hard to get me up there. I, I think someone put my name in there, and it got me up there. Um. But then it’s like anything else. Like, once you’re on stage, for me, you know, not for everybody, like, then I really — Like, I’ve always wanted to be a rockstar, really. If you saw this — I’m not a great singer. The great thing about live karaoke is that you got backup singers that can help you out a little bit and drown out your voice if you’re having yourself.
Maria Monroy (33:42):
But you’re a performer.
Kurt Zaner (33:43):
I’m a performer. You know, I feel like — I used to watch — You ever watch this show? I don’t know if you’re old enough for it. It was, um, it was not American Idol, but, like, Rock Star, like, INXS was looking for a new lead singer.
Maria Monroy (33:52):
I’m sure I’m old enough for it, but I’ve never watched it.
Kurt Zaner (33:54):
And it was like they were all rockers, and they were, like, performing. And I was like, “I love that show.” And so if I could do anything in the world, it would be probably in this order. Rockstar, professional athlete. Number one and number two. I can’t do either of those. But in live karaoke for those, like, three minutes, it’s like a Make-a-Wish thing. I can be that rockstar. And —
Maria Monroy (34:12):
So when you did the karaoke, someone I think on your team told me that you, uh, did drama at some point. Like, acting.
Kurt Zaner (34:21):
I did do acting. I did do acting.
Maria Monroy (34:23):
Do you think that that’s helped you as a trial lawyer?
Kurt Zaner (34:25):
I do. You know, part of it’s like a chicken or the egg thing, right? Like, was I always a performer and then I wanted to do acting ’cause I liked performing? Or did doing acting help me become a better performer? You know, probably a little bit of both. Like, I always had this, this, this inclination to want to perform. I think it’s ’cause — My theory is it’s ’cause I’m a little brother, and so I was always trying to get attention. You know, “Look at me, look at me, look at me.” And, and so, and I think maybe I should do a study on this. See if little brothers are generally actors.
Maria Monroy (34:52):
Well you know what’s funny? My, my middle son — So he has a sister, but he has an older brother. He’s like a little comedian.
Kurt Zaner (35:02):
Maria Monroy (35:03):
And I feel it’s because he can’t get a word in.
Kurt Zaner (35:05):
Maria Monroy (35:06):
So I think it makes perfect sense.
Kurt Zaner (35:07):
I mean, well, there’s something here that we should write a paper on this, you know. Um, so I went to LA — So I did, I did theater in college. Um, I wasn’t a theater major, but I took a lot of theater classes. I did some plays; I did some scene work. And then I moved to LA to be a movie star, of course, after undergrad. Uh, my parents were not in favor of this. They thought I was crazy. Um, and I went out there, and I did not become a movie star. I was waiting to see if I got into different law schools. But I, you know, I made some — I accomplished some big things. Like, I got a job as a bartender, which is a big deal in LA. That’s hard, ’cause everyone’s trying to do it. Um, I got into an acting class. Big deal. It was a big acting class. And here’s like — You can’t just sign up for an acting class in LA. You have to, like, audition to get into an acting class.
Maria Monroy (35:47):
My best friend’s an actress though. I’ve lived through it all.
Kurt Zaner (35:50):
Yeah. So I did it for, like, maybe a year, nine months. And I was like, “Yeah, you know what, acting’s cool. But I can —“ I had this epiphany where, like, I wanted — I didn’t want to be the, the actor that played these characters. Like, I love movies. I’ve always loved movies. They inspire me. The movie —
Maria Monroy (36:05):
What’s your favorite movie?
Kurt Zaner (36:06):
Gladiator. Braveheart, depending on the day.
Maria Monroy (36:08):
Kurt Zaner (36:09):
You throw Legends of the Fall in there. Maybe The Edge is a big one up there. You know, it’s hard to pick just one. I love Kingdom of Heaven. The director’s cut. Um —
Maria Monroy (36:18):
The director’s cut.
Kurt Zaner (36:19):
Yeah. The, the original, they, they made Ridley Scott take an hour out of it. And it was, it was very sad. Um, and so the movie felt incomplete. But I realized I wanted to be those — I wanted to be William Wallace. I wanted to be Maximus. I don’t want to be the guy that played them. And so it seemed like it would be maybe not as meaningful as I hoped if I were able to succeed. I’m sure it’d be a lot of fun being a professional actor. But I wanted to, like, make a difference on my own. I wanted to be those characters that were doing impactful things for people. And as a trial lawyer, you can do that and you get be —
Maria Monroy (36:44):
So you knew, like, “I want to be a trial lawyer.”
Kurt Zaner (36:46):
Yes. I al— Yes, I knew that I wanted to be trial lawyer. I wanted to, because I wanted to help people. I wanted to be in trial. That’s, you know — And be the actor and the director and the screenwriter while the script is changing on the fly. I wanted to have all that. Um —
Maria Monroy (37:01):
And you think your passion for, like, performing helped you, like, maybe not be as scared to be in front of a jury?
Kurt Zaner (37:09):
I think so. I still get scared. Um —
Maria Monroy (37:11):
But a good scared, right? It’s probably — Do you think that instead of scared, you’re just excited? Because they say it’s the same chemical.
Kurt Zaner (37:17):
Yeah, I think that’s right. I think that’s right. Um —
Maria Monroy (37:20):
Like, it’s a good scary.
Kurt Zaner (37:20):
It’s a good scary. I mean if, if I’m not scared, I feel like I don’t have the energy I need to perform when —
Maria Monroy (37:25):
Or you don’t care.
Kurt Zaner (37:26):
Or you don’t — Yeah. If you don’t, you don’t care. Exactly right. So I, — And so doing the acting classes, like, did it help me? Yes. But, like, we’re not acting up there. I — That’s a question I always get. “Does your acting help?” Acting classes help you figure out how to emote and how to be comfortable in who you are. But when you get in front of a jury, I’m not pretending. I’m not acting that. Like I, I like my client, and I start crying, not ’cause I’m doing some method acting, thinking about a sad day when I was a little kid and I’m crying because of that. No. Like, I’m crying because I really care about my client, and it helps me get in touch with my emotions, and it gives me more confidence to come out of my shell and really be the way I want to be. It’s like everyone — If they’re alone in the room and there’s a great song that comes on and they just want to, like, sing in front of the mirror, you know, like, everyone has that.
Maria Monroy (38:11):
Kurt Zaner (38:12):
And everyone does that. And the acting just helps that person come out more at trial.
Maria Monroy (38:17):
Interesting. I’d never heard of it put that way, but I could see how it would help you, because you probably just learn to tune into emotions in front of people. So now you can tune into your own emotions in front of people.
Kurt Zaner (38:28):
That’s exactly right. That’s exactly right.
Maria Monroy (38:29):
That’s amazing. That’s a great skill to have. And if you’re a young trial lawyer or want to be a trial lawyer, go take an acting class.
Kurt Zaner (38:38):
Yeah. I mean, get comfortable in front of people. This goes back to what I was saying in the very beginning of all this, like, being a human — You’ve got to be you. We’ve got to be authentic, and then you can really emote and, and be authentic and communicate. ‘Cause this what we’re doing. We’re communicating, right?
Maria Monroy (38:50):
I don’t like people that aren’t authentic.
Kurt Zaner (38:51):
Maria Monroy (38:52):
I think it’s something you can sense, either consciously or subconsciously. I see it consciously. I don’t like it.
Kurt Zaner (38:58):
A lot of people have a mask on, you know?
Maria Monroy (39:00):
Yeah. Especially in our space.
Kurt Zaner (39:02):
Especially in our space.
Maria Monroy (39:02):
And I just, I’m like, mm.
Kurt Zaner (39:04):
Which doesn’t make a lot of sense, because, like, we’re supposed to be the most open. We’re supposed to be the most authentic. And you go to these things, and you meet all these people, and you’re like, “That guy, that gal was a jerk.” You know?
Maria Monroy (39:13):
There’s a lot of ego though. It’s, it’s like — and I mean, I’ve said this before, and I, I have a client that, like, I interviewed the other day, and he really disagrees with me. I think the ego can be good. He disagrees, but I think you need to be able to check it.
Kurt Zaner (39:26):
A hundred percent. You have to believe in yourself, and you have to believe in yourself enough that you can be humble. And if —
Maria Monroy (39:33):
And vulnerable. And Joe Fried, this is, like, one of the things he talks about, right? Like, being able to even be honest with, you know, the jury about, you know, whatever it might be.
Kurt Zaner (39:43):
I tell them all the time, “I’m nervous. I’m scared. I’m not confident that I’ve going to be able to tell my client’s story the way it deserves to be told.” So a hundred percent. The last thing I want to talk about is kenpō. Uh, I’ve gotten really into, uh —
Maria Monroy (39:55):
Kurt Zaner (39:56):
It’s a martial art. Uh, it’s, like, a mixture of karate and um, whereas my five year old calls it karate and, um, and, and, uh, kung fu and a little bit of Jiujitsu in there. It’s from Hawaii. Wow. And so I’ve been doing it for about two, three years now. And it’s like, I do it one hour a week or maybe a little more sometimes. It’s the best hour of my week. And my two, my two oldest kids, they’re not very old. Seven and five, they do it, too. And we, uh, I’ve learned how to use the bo staff.
Kurt Zaner (40:21):
I learned how to do use the spear. Now I’m training with that weapon. And I had to do all these like katas, which is, like, a martial arts form, and these pinans, which are, like, uh, kung fu forms. And, like, I put the phone away, I strap on my gi, I hang out with my sensei, and I learn how to kick some ass. And, like, I was a little kid. I always wanted to be, like, a karate master,
Maria Monroy (40:40):
Kurt Zaner (40:41):
And it’s never too late to do what you’ve always wanted to do. And so now, like, you know, all the people at the office — I bring in my bo staff, and I’m twirling it around, and I’m practicing, and I hit the wall, and I break things on people’s desks. And, like, it just, it’s so much fun. And it’s, like, again, this whole, like, theme of, like, being a warrior and someone’s champion and learning how to do these things I’ve always wanted to do and just taking that discipline and, and, and that, that intellectual dive into the art of it. It’s just, I’m just loving it. And at 43 years old, it’s, I’m so glad I’ve been able to share this with my children. And they’re the ones that got me into it. They started it.
Maria Monroy (41:13):
Kurt Zaner (41:14):
My wife, like, took them to some dojo, and I’m like, “That’s great.” And then I started watching. I’m like, “Well, it’d be cool if I could, like, help teach them, as well and, like, learn with them.” And so now we all do it together.
Maria Monroy (41:22):
Kurt Zaner (41:23):
Dojo. A dojo is where you learn martial arts. Yeah.
Maria Monroy (41:26):
Huh. I’m going to look into this. So my kids did jiujitsu for two years, and they — We were in Mexico at the time, and they had a private trainer that would come to them, and they loved it. They were getting so good at it. And then we moved, and we haven’t, like —
Kurt Zaner (41:39):
Well, get them back into it —
Maria Monroy (41:40):
They loved it so much. It was, like, one thing that we were so grateful for. ‘Cause this was during COVID.
Kurt Zaner (41:45):
Maria Monroy (41:46):
Everything was shut down, and this was, like, one thing that they did a couple times a week that they just, like — It was such a good outlet.
Kurt Zaner (41:52):
Jiujitsu’s great. My, we have friends that do it. My kids, they do the kenpō. They also do wrestling, and wrestling’s all, like, jiujitsu. It’s, like, such good physical activity. Um, yeah, I mean my, my kids have changed my life. That’s probably one of the other hardest things about being a trial lawyer is finding time to be dad. You know?
Maria Monroy (42:07):
Yeah. That must be tough.
Kurt Zaner (42:08):
I love being dad. I mean, dad’s more important to me than being a trial lawyer. And, um, I want to be home for dinner every night. I want to coach their activities. I want to do things with them. And it’s, like, this most stressful thing about being a lawyer isn’t the work. It’s finding the time to do the work. You know, like, I need chunks of time to do writing and prepare for depos, and, like, those are hard to come by. Especially if you want to be there for breakfast and for dinner. And, and look, I’m not perfect. I, I fall short, and I don’t do everything I aim to do. Um, I’m not always there for breakfast. I’m not always there for dinner. You know, I, I don’t — I miss some of their games. I’m here now, this — at this seminar. I’m going to miss stuff tomorrow. I’m going to fly home tomorrow morning, but I’m going to miss a couple games. Like, you can’t be everywhere all the time. Just got to make sure you’re there enough and that when you’re there, you’re very, very present. Which is also a challenge ’cause you get all these —
Maria Monroy (42:51):
That’s such a big challenge. I struggle with that a lot.
Kurt Zaner (42:53):
It’s so hard. I mean, I’m, and not just, like, the phone distraction. Just, like, worrying about all these things that we have to do, you know? And they don’t deserve that. You know, they, they deserve more. And so we —
Maria Monroy (43:03):
I’m going to cry. Don’t say that. I really struggle with that. I’m, like, I live in my head.
Kurt Zaner (43:08):
But um, I think, I think, I think we all do, to some extent. But that’s what was cool about karate. We get to do it together. We don’t train together every, every week. Um, but we have the same sensei. So we share these things together, and we go to tournaments together. And you know, this morning, the last two mornings we’re here in California — We don’t have many beaches in Colorado. And so I was able to — kind of transitioning away from the kids, just back to just me — me, me, me, me, me — Um, I would, I would run — I’m running every morning in the beach, and I could practice my karate in the ocean. And I’m like, I wish they were here to do it with me, but we’ll do it together. Of course, they don’t like doing it with Dad as much as Dad likes doing it with them. That’s also a problem, right? “You guys want to go to the dojo, do some karate?” “No.” “Come on.” And then you can’t push too much, right?
Maria Monroy (43:47):
Kurt Zaner (43:48):
‘Cause they don’t want to do it. Um, but I still want to do it with them.
Maria Monroy (43:50):
Well, thank you so much.
Kurt Zaner (43:51):
Yeah. Thanks for having me.
Maria Monroy (43:52):
I appreciate it.
Kurt Zaner (43:53):
This was fun. This was fun. Yeah, this was fun. Um, it was great. Thanks for having me on on the podcast.
Maria Monroy (43:59):
Of course. Thank you so much for Kurt Zaner for everything he shared with us today. If you found the story valuable, please share it with someone you want to see succeed, subscribe so you never miss an episode, and leave a five star review. It goes a long way in helping others discover the show. I’ll see you guys next week.