Jacqueline Buyze, Esq. is an attorney and the author of the children’s book series “A Story of Lawyers™” which educates children about the work that we do as lawyers. With fun and jolly rhymes and delightful illustrations, each of the books in the three-part series expands into a different aspect of the legal field.
The first book, A Story of Lawyers™ is a fun introduction to law as a profession giving a broad overview including legal terms. The second book, A Story of Lawyers™ with Views from the Bench, explains the role of the judiciary in our justice system. A third book, A Story of Lawyers™ Raising the Bar, is written but not yet released. It explains the function and purpose of bar associations, the many ways lawyers volunteer in their communities, and programs like legal aid that are available throughout the country. A tribute to the profession, this series is a must have for lawyers and educators, a must read for their clients, children and students, and must add supplement to any civics or law related education effort.
We invited Jacqueline to discuss the series and her newest project.
LIM: Why did you decide to write the series?
J.B.: I never made a conscious decision to write the first book. The catalyst occurred in 2007. My oldest nephew, who was then 8, made an innocent – but flippant – “lawyer” remark after telling me about a “bad neighbor” who he felt “belonged in jail.” He had never talked to me about my work, but had seemingly adopted a somewhat negative view of attorneys that many in the general public share. His comment bothered me long after the words were uttered. A few months later, at about 3:00 a.m., my sleep was interrupted by rhymes. Rhymes about LAWYERS! One after another filled my head and they eventually compelled me to get up and write. It was about 4:00 a.m. when I opened my laptop. Words poured out as I watched with excitement and their story was revealed to me on my computer screen. It was surreal and seemingly effortless. In less than 3 hours I had a complete manuscript for a modest book. I immediately titled it A Story of Lawyers™. I knew it was but one of many that could be told.
Having no idea what to do next with my writing, I did what any good lawyer would do. I called my friend, a brilliant board certified intellectual property attorney, and made plans to meet her for lunch. She was shocked to learn that I had written a children’s book as I never expressed an interest to do so. I passed the manuscript to her over the table and she immediately began reading. When she was done, she lifted her eyes from the page and said, “This is REALLY good … I think you should publish it.” I took her advice and set out on a long journey to find the perfect publishing partner. I met many people along the way and took every opportunity to learn whatever I could about producing children’s books. The publishing agreement was signed in October, 2011. The book was released Valentine’s Day, 2012. After a relatively successful launch (a well-attended fundraising event for Legal Aid Services of Collier County) and at the urging of colleagues and friends, I agreed to expand the book into a series.
LIM: Which of the three books is your personal favorite?
J.B.: My books are each special in their own right, but I lived with the first book the longest. I carried a hard copy of the manuscript in my tote for more than 4 years, keeping it with me everywhere I went. It was a labor of love and a sincere expression of my appreciation and respect for colleagues and friends. It is the only book in the series that utilizes actual illustrated likenesses of the people who inspired it. A multitude of men and women who take their professional responsibilities seriously. They sat beside me on boards of directors. They freely write checks in donation to a plethora of worthy charitable causes. They sponsor important professional and community events. They repeatedly assume leadership roles despite demands of work and home. And they volunteer countless hours to their communities and profession, and never hesitate to lend a helping hand whenever they are asked. My lawyer friends are not only brilliant, they are kind, compassionate, thoughtful, driven, successful people who deserve better than the pitiful reputation earned by the worst amongst us. I am truly blessed to have these people as mentors and role models. I wanted to introduce them to children as the heroes they are and hoped that their story would one day play a significant role in improving public perceptions here and abroad. It is, after all, far easier to shape the developing minds of children than it is to change the hardened attitudes of adults. The first book gave life to a series that represents my proposed solution to a problem that has plagued our profession for centuries. For all of these reasons, my first book, A Story of Lawyers™, holds a special place in my heart (it is also the one that is most in demand).
LIM: Did you find it difficult to simplify complex lawyer language to a child’s understanding?
J.B.: Kids are capable of learning anything. Have you ever read up on dinosaurs? Talk about complex language! Yet kids speak dinosaur fluently. Why not law? If you think about it, we actually use a lot of words that are familiar to children. Words like “bar”, “case” and “Right”. Children know these words and will understand them in the legal context if we take time to teach them. It may surprise you to know that a six-year-old can read my book with little assistance. They will, of course, bump into a few big words, like “litigation”, “entities” and “transactions”. But with assistance, big words (like dinosaurs) are not deterrents to little ones. And the melodic rhyme is pleasing to even an infant’s tiny ear. I know I am right. Consider the Pledge of Allegiance. Children recite The Pledge every day, even though they do not understand what it means. Indeed, many adults don’t really understand it either. We teach children about God, for heaven sakes, and NOTHING is more complex than that. So I guess in answer to your question, I really did not try to simplify the complexities of our language. I just kept it simple. I stuck to the basics, introducing different kinds of lawyers and the words we associate with them. In my mind, our conversation can begin with kids at an early age. The gentile rhyme and rhythm of the books is comforting. With each reading, vocabulary will become more meaningful and soon legal concepts will begin to develop. Together, the elements of my book create a charming little door that can lead a child to a better understanding of the practice of law. I also included a child-friendly glossary at the end of each book, which should help.
LIM: What is your favorite children’s book?
J.B.: There are so many truly wonderful children’s books. It is impossible for me to pick just one. Growing up, Dr. Seuss ruled and we LOVED all of the stories. The one that resonated most with me when I was a child was Horton Hatches an Egg. Horton wasn’t smart and he wasn’t really cute. He was just an honorable elephant who exemplified great persistence and integrity, qualities that I deeply admire. He meant what he said. And he said what he meant. And that’s why I love him 100 percent!
LIM: Can you tell us about your newest project ‘A Joyful Royal Debut: Presenting
J.B.: I was partially asleep when I heard a report on tv. The Palace officially announced William and Kate were expecting. I instantly knew that I would write the story of the birth of this child and my email to my publisher that morning set off a firestorm of frenzied activity that lasted through the birth. Timing was critical. We had to be the first book out. Everyone was speculating about the date of conception and potential date of birth, but we never really knew how much time we had. Our worst case scenario was early July, and based on that, we agreed to timeframes for completing each phase of the project. It was December and the deadline we set for the manuscript was January 10. Because of this project, the release of the 3rd book in the A Story of Lawyers™ series (i.e., A Story of Lawyers™ Raising the Bar) had to be delayed.
I thought about the “royal book” a lot before writing a word. As a contemporary of the late Princess Diana, I couldn’t help but wonder what she would think, feel, say to/about this child. Privacy was so important to her and the eyes of the world were now blazoned upon her son and his bride. I wondered what advice she would give to Kate during this time. Did Kate really understand what it would mean to carry the next heir to the Throne? What pressure she must feel! With all this in mind, I decided to focus on joy. A joy that began with The Queen and spread throughout the world. It is the same joy that is universally experienced by people of all races when a loved one is expecting. The joy of becoming a mother, father, grandparent, uncle or aunt. I wanted it to be personal to the reader. It was perfect! When the time was right, I sat on my sofa and just as before, the words flowed out … “One day in December, a glorious morn, the Palace announced that a babe would be born. A new Royal Highness would soon be world-known. The heir to The Queen will accede to the Throne.”
The next 6 months for me were a constant flurry of emails, phone calls and frantic activity. Fortunately our efforts paid off! A Joyful Royal Debut: Presenting Prince George!™ was featured in USA Today on July 25. It was the first book out about the royal baby and I could not have asked for more.
Be sure to check out all of Jacqueline’s books A Story of Lawyers™[ISBN-10: 193740630X, ISBN-13: 9781937406301], A Story of Lawyers™ with Views from the Bench [ISBN-10: 1620862530, ISBN-13: 9781620862537], and A Joyful Royal Debut: Presenting Prince George!™ [ISBN-10: 1620863057, ISBN-13: 9781620863053] available through major book sellers, online and in stores, or through the publisher. Use the discount code: LEGALINK to receive 15% off your purchases through January 1, 2015.