Lining up outside The Black Cat for the Battle of the Law Firm Bands. The evening was sold out — 1,000 tickets in all.
We just got back from Washington, DC, where we spent a few days attending the 2009 convention of the American Constitution Society (ACS). We may have a post or two about the conference later.
While in the nation’s capital, we also attended this fun event: the sixth annual Battle of the Law Firm Bands. A description:
Lawyers from prominent area law firms will compete in a hotly contested sixth annual Battle of the Law Firm Bands to benefit Gifts for the Homeless, Inc. (GFTH), a non-profit, all-volunteer organization supported by the city’s legal community to help the homeless. The Black Cat, a premier hot-spot in DC’s historic U Street district, has partnered with GFTH to host “Banding Together 2009” on Thursday, June 18, from 7:00 pm to midnight.
At the stroke of midnight, one band will be crowned champion for having raised the most money from the crowd through “Chicago-style” voting (each dollar equals one vote – vote early and often!). GFTH will use 100% of the money donated to purchase thermal underwear, sweatshirts, sweatpants, hats, gloves, underwear, socks, blankets and other essential new clothing items for homeless men, women, and children; the clothing is distributed to more than 30 shelters throughout the metro area. GFTH has already raised over $100,000 in connection with Banding Together 2008.
It doesn’t surprise us that Biglaw denizens would be willing to help the homeless. There but for the grace of God….
Our belated account of the evening — The BLT wrote it up in more timely fashion — after the jump.
Eleven bands, representing 17 law firms, participated in the competition. Lawyers aren’t known for being an artistic bunch, but we were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the performances. Check out the list of contestants here.
There was a divergence in terms of law firm spirit. At one point in the proceedings, the emcee called out various firm names to see who was in the house. The Finnegan Henderson lawyers cheered lustily. Who says IP lawyers don’t know how to party? The Kirkland & Ellis crew was more subdued — perhaps they were still at the office? Finally, when White & Case was invoked, crickets were heard. Perhaps they were otherwise occupied.
The overall atmosphere was festive, and the crowd was surprisingly attentive to the music (although there was, of course, lots of Blackberry-checking too). The crowd was fairly well-behaved, but a small group of summer associates danced drunkenly in the center of the floor. Didn’t they get the memo? (At least they weren’t making out with each other.)
We were present for many but not all of the performances (because we arrived late and also stepped out briefly in the middle). The schedule was rigorously followed, as you’d expect from a bunch of lawyers. Some quick notes:
Pleather (Crowell & Moring): Nice cover of “I Will Survive.” The Quitterz (Alston & Bird): Good female lead vocalist and song selection. We like that Jason Mraz song too. Waterson (Sutherland): Didn’t like them as much as The Quitters, but maybe it was just a song selection issue. Big Sur (Sidley Austin): As the emcee noted, Big Sur has competed in all six iterations of the Battle of the Bands. This did not surprise us, since the average age of its members skewed towards the high side. The Precedents (McDermott Will & Emery LLP; Constantine Cannon LLP): We liked this band, especially the guitarists; they had a nice energy. The crowd seemed to dig them as well. One For The Governor (Crowell & Moring; Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP): They seemed to have numerous groupies — when they took the stage, the cavernous room was filled with high-pitched screams. Their shtick was to do acoustic versions of songs that one would not expect to be done acoustically. E.g., Hit Me Baby One More Time; Baby Got Back.
Their performances were tremendously enjoyable — yes, even the acoustic version of Baby Got Back. They also had a super-sexy guitarist (although you can’t tell that from his firm website photo). They might have been our personal favorite.
WMD and the Bad Ass Brass Band (Latham & Watkins LLP; Law Office of Richard Goldberg): This may have been the most impressive operation: an eleven-piece band, including a five-piece horn section. They generated rich sound, from the widest range of instruments, and received huge applause after their first number. They also boasted their fair share of hotties, including the trombone player in the black shirt, who was also a charismatic lead singer, and the guitarist in the tight yellow t-shirt.
The Bad Ass Brass Band was composed largely of Latham & Watkins lawyers, joined by one solo practitioner — Richard Goldberg, who actually lived in the same building as we did back when we lived in D.C. Formerly with a large firm, Goldberg now has his own practice, focused on corporate work and white-collar investigations.
We chatted with Richard Goldberg before his band took the stage. He told us that he loves having his own shop: “Getting clients is fun!” He said that the benefits of being a sole practitioner include less pressure and more independence than when he was at a firm. He’s already working on several significant matters, including a DOJ investigation. And perhaps surprisingly, given that some say it can take about 18 months to really get a solo practice going, Goldberg claims that he already earns more than he did back in Biglaw — even though he’s had his own firm for about three months.
We unfortunately missed the performance of the winning band, Dangerous Communication Device (Williams & Connolly LLP). But we did catch up with them after their victory, in an exclusive post-show interview.
You can read our interview with DCD, and see additional photos from the evening, in subsequent posts. So keep an eye out for them.
Banding Together [Gifts for the Homeless]
Lawyers Battle It Out Rock ‘n’ Roll-Style for Charity [The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times]