An Interview with TV Lawyer Manny Medrano

by Cheryl on February 13, 2012

has been a fixture in the TV news industry in Los Angeles for many years. He has been on both sides of the camera, being interviewed as a private practice and government lawyer, as well a TV news legal analyst commenting on many of Los Angeles’ high profile cases. He has been interviewed by dozens of reporters and has had a role as a legal analyst on KNBC-TV, an NBC affiliate in Los Angeles. Today, he is regular on KTLA Channel 5 News commenting on legal matters and other high profile cases in courts around Southern California. I talked with about his TV work and his observations about lawyers working with the media.

Q. How did you get your start in TV news?

A. When I was working as a federal prosecutor, I was handling a high profile case involving a Mexican Cartel accused of torturing and murdering a DEA agent.  I would speak to the media daily during that trial. After I returned to private practice, I continued to get calls from the media to comment on news stories.  KNBC-TV news in Los Angeles asked me to be its legal analyst.  I later took a job at KTLA doing the same thing.

Q. What is your life like today?

A. 80 percent of my day is focused on criminal defense and business litigation at Medrano and Carlton. The rest of the time, I am the legal analyst at KTLA .

Q. Tell me about your legal segment on KTLA:

A. It’s called ‘KTLA Inside the Law.’ It educates viewers on the legal system and their legal rights. It airs every Thursday at 1 p.m.  I report on issues that have broad appeal to consumers.

Q. You have interviewed hundreds of attorneys for your show. What are your tips for attorneys who are interested in working with the media?

A. If you want to pitch a story, keep it simple and think it through. It has to have a large appeal to viewers. The inside legal baseball stories, won’t fly.  Also, stay abreast of current events and try to attach your story idea to a current event.  If you can come up with simple idea, your chances of getting it on the air increase substantially. The biggest mistake lawyers make is they don’t evaluate a current event and tie it into a story pitch.

Q. What advice do you have for attorneys who are being interviewed for TV?

A. At all costs, avoid legal jargon. Keep it simple. Speak conversationally. It’s ok to smile. It’s ok to gesticulate.  Be personal and exude confidence.

Q. What is your advice for attorneys who want to connect with a reporter?

A. Just as a lawyer develops business, attorneys should be looking for opportunities to meet journalists. Attend events where journalists appear, then introduce yourself and hand out a card. And be sure to give them your 24-7 contact information.  Also, train yourself and your staff to immediately respond to a media inquiry.  The new cycle moves at the speed of light and it won’t wait for you.  Don’t’ take rejections personally.  In TV, one in 10 story pitches get on the air.  It’s a marathon. The lawyer that gets on the air is persistent.

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