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Jay Edelson Is the King of the Court(room)

The New York Times once called him “tech’s least friended man.” That’s because the River North resident has made a career out of spiking Silicon Valley for privacy violations.

Jay Edelson
Photo: Lisa Predko

As this class-action attorney will tell you, fighting technology companies on privacy issues is no easy task; the work requires a blend of deep thinking, endurance, and staying quick on your feet in court (including the Supreme Court, where Edelson argued and won a case against the search engine Spokeo in 2016). Here’s how the 46-year-old River North resident keeps his brain sharp and his profile photo presentable.

Midlife motivation

“What we do involves stamina — we can be in mediation for 15 straight hours. I used to play sports like baseball and basketball. Then, in my 30s, I stopped exercising and gained a bunch of weight. It was impacting my health; I’d be exhausted all the time, and it got to the point where I would pass out. So I set a goal that by 40, I would return to being physically active. I changed what I ate and started playing volleyball.”

Set and spike

“I’d never played volleyball other than in gym class, but I love learning new things, and it’s a sport you can play into your 60s. I got a coach who is a former pro to work with me and others at the firm. We have a practice court in our office, and we play virtually every day for an hour or so. It’s the ultimate stress reliever — you get back from a contentious day at court and want to blow off steam. We play in indoor leagues during the winter and at least two beach leagues.”

Training routine

“You’ve got to be in really good shape to play at the beach. Running and jumping in the sand is tiring. I’ll start working out with a trainer a few months before the summer leagues. He switches things up, hands me barbells and dumbbells and says, ‘Do 10 reps of this, then you’re going to plank.’ My goal is not to have a chiseled body but to be able to get through the games and keep up my energy.”

Eating plan

“A lot of my job is making decisions and thinking creatively, and when I eat a ton of carbs and sugar, I’m not as sharp. I try to be what I call ‘soft Paleo’ — not super strict. Mostly meat and veggies, no grains, but I’ll allow milk and cheese and fruit. I can’t keep track of every little thing I eat, so I have general dos and don’ts. If I allow myself to have one piece of chocolate cake, I’m going to have 10 over the course of the week.”

Road games

“I travel a lot. You can find really good volleyball coaches almost anywhere. When I went to Israel, I found the guy who coached the national team, and I worked out with them for a week. I also scrimmaged with a college team in Utah. I’m not at that level, but they were nice enough to invite me.”

Canine calming

“My ex-wife and I have joint custody of our dog — a black Lab mix named Lila. I get her every other week. We walk to work together. At the firm, we do high-impact cases where there can be a lot of energy and stress; there’s something so centering about having her lying at my feet. When we have clients or opposing attorneys come in, it changes their mood as well. You have a much different conversation when there’s a dog in the room.”

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