Thursday Profile: Josh Ard

 Josh Ard says he is “overeducated with more degrees than a thermometer.” He has a Ph.D. in linguistics and an M.B.A. in addition to a J.D.  Now a lawyer in private practice, he was formerly a professor of linguistics and a researcher for a major advertising agency.

Ard is the outgoing president of the Ingham County Bar Association. He has been the chair of two sections of the State Bar—elder law and disability rights and consumer law—and has served on the council of two others—administrative and regulatory law and probate and estate planning. He has also served as chair of two State Bar committees—Unauthorized Practice of Law and the now disbanded legal education and professional standards. Ard serves on the ethics committee and the representative assembly.
By Jo Mathis
Legal News
Residence:  Williamstown Township.
Currently reading … I just returned from a trip to China and don’t sleep well on airplanes. On the plane I finished several books. The best was probably “All God’s Dangers: The Life of Nate Shaw” by Theodore Rosengarten, the story of a black sharecropper in Alabama. Now I’m reading something much lighter, “Dangerous Women,” an anthology edited by George RR Martin and others.  I also listen to books on while I’m driving and sometimes when I work out. Now I’m listening to “Gulp” by Mary Roach. It’s a fascinating story of our digestive system, a topic not to everybody’s taste, although taste is one of the topics.
What is your most treasured material possession? Although one of my daughters-in-law claims I have too much kitchen equipment, I’d probably say my bicycle.
What advice do you have for someone considering law school? Although I’m an adjunct professor, I’d have to say that legal education is worse than other types of higher education. Business school cases involve realia. Law school casebooks just have snippets from appellate holdings, not pleadings, discovery documents, or other things lawyers actually use in real cases. One takes a wills class or a contracts class without seeing a will or a contract. I’d advise students that they have to do the work themselves of learning the subjects, because it seems that the education is designed more to prevent learning than to facilitate it. I’d also advise them to take clinical courses, where they actually can learn something about how to be a lawyer.
A final piece of advice is to study efficiently. I didn’t see much correlation between time spent and results obtained. Some students spend too much time on the wrong things. Keep your eyes on the prize. It doesn’t matter whether you were embarrassed in class one day since grading is done anonymously. The important thing is getting the big picture.
Favorite local hangouts: The Michigan Athletic Club, and libraries. 
Does your job ever make you pessimistic? It makes me cynical. I hope I’m still optimistic. One can’t be happy thinking about elder abuse and exploitation and lawyer misconduct, two of the areas I deal with.  At least I can say that things are better than they were a generation or two ago.
What’s the most awe-inspiring place you have visited? As far as buildings go, I’d say the Blue Mosque in Istanbul. As for natural places, it’s hard to rank them. I’ve been fortunate to travel frequently. Earlier this year, I visited the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland.  It’s very impressive, but it’s hard to say that it’s more impressive than places I visited earlier, such as the Grand Canyon.
What’s your greatest achievement? I’d like to say raising three healthy and successful children, but their success is due more to themselves than to me.
If you could have one super power, what would it be? I kid my wife about that. She has an amazing ability to tell the actual temperature. I say that if I had a superpower I’d want something more awesome than that.
What would you say to your 16-year-old self? From my memory of 16-year-old boys, it doesn’t matter what one says, because they won’t pay attention.
What one thing do you wish people knew about your work? Gosh, don’t we want to keep our work secret?
Favorite joke: God and Satan were talking at the bar. God said, “Sometimes I feel sorry for you. It’s so hot and miserable down there.” Satan said, “Oh, it’s not that way anymore. You’ve been sending me a lot of engineers and we’ve vented most of the heat away except for the hot tubs. It’s like eternal spring now.” God got mad and said, “Oooh, I’m gonna sue.” Satan said, “Oh, yeah? Where are you going to get any lawyers?”
What is guaranteed to make you laugh? Politicians. And what Jon Stewart does about it.
Must-see TV: It would probably be sporting events. One needn’t worry about missing out on important plot segments and one can’t predict who will win, unlike scripted television shows. For scripted shows, it’s hard to top the final season of “Breaking Bad.” 
What’s one thing you would like to learn to do? I wish I played a musical instrument. I hope I’ll learn to do that.
If you could have dinner with three people, living or dead, who would they be? Both food and conversation play roles in making meals memorable. I’m not sure who would guarantee great food. For conversation, it would be hard to top Oscar Wilde, Samuel Clements (Mark Twain), and Dorothy Parker.
Can’t-live-without technology: Probably a smart phone. I’d hate to go back to the way it was in my youth.
What do you drive? A Lexus my wife used to drive.
What would you drive if money were no object? I don’t really care as long as it is safe and gets me where I want to go. If I had unlimited money, upgrading cars wouldn’t be a high priority.
Where would you like to be when you’re 90? Somewhere with good weather where I’m healthy. I appreciate the sexist Polish birthday song “Sto Lat.” It expresses wishes that you’ll live to reach your 100th birthday, when you’ll be shot by a jealous husband.

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