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Instructor Spotlight: Michael Geary

After 25 years practicing law, instructor Michael Geary said being in the classroom “is a joy.”

“If I had known how much fun teaching was I would have started long before,” Geary said. “This is my place. This is my element.”

Geary, who teaches classes in the paralegal, criminal justice and health and human services programs at Bryant & Stratton College, said the rush he feels when presenting in front of a courtroom is very similar to how it feels to teach a class.

“It’s exciting. Trial work was very much like teaching. It was taking a subject matter and a specific scenario and having to teach a jury what it meant,” he said. “To me, that translates very well to the classroom.”

Geary, who maintains an active law license, said he continues to do limited document work but no longer makes court appearances. Making a move from the courtroom to the classroom has always been a possibility for Geary whose father was a high school teacher.

For students, the chance to work with Geary is an opportunity to learn about a wide-range of legal topics. Geary was in general practice law and addressed a wide range of legal issues.

Criminal law, he said, is his favorite topic to teach, though not necessarily to practice.

“I love the theory. I love the process. I didn’t so much enjoy the cases,” he said.

‘Why not’, is a complex question that he regularly discusses with his students.

“How can you represent somebody you know is guilty? I try to tell them that I don’t know they’re guilty. That’s not my job, but, it’s still something that weighs on you,” he said. “Even though I don’t know they’re guilty I can look at the evidence and have a pretty good idea. So that is always in the back of your mind. Am I helping somebody get off who shouldn’t?”

In criminal law he also discusses the opposite scenario.

“What is worse is am I going to make a mistake here that causes someone to be sent to prison when they shouldn’t be,” Geary said.

Good criminal law practitioners, Geary tells his students, should focus on their job which is to make sure everything is fair.

“Obviously there’s pressure in legal cases to win, but let’s be realistic, it is also necessary to make sure everything is done fairly. Winning by cheating is not right.”

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