Robert Skinner of Ropes & Gray

Ropes & Gray partner Rob Skinner was named a “Future Star” by Benchmark Litigation in 2009. They were surely impressed by his securities work on behalf of financial services clients. But Skinner may be a future star in musical theater, too.

That’s our prediction after watching a YouTube video from “Rob Skinner’s Midlife Crisis Cabaret,” a one-man show Skinner put on last month in honor of his 40th birthday. An attendee tells us:

Rob is a well-loved, youngish partner at Ropes, known for his being a bit over the top. After he turned 40, he wrote and arranged a one-man show, then rented out his local theater in Winchester, MA and performed it last month for friends, family, and a fair number of co-workers (plying us with drinks for a good while before hand). Not in any way a firm-sponsored event, although a fair number of partners were in attendance.

We discovered that partners are just as capable as associates of making fun of law firm life. Skinner did a Kermit-inspired number about lawyer TV shows. “The partners on TV shows are like Machiavelli. They own everything but their souls,” he sings. “They win their cases and have lunch with Satan, who joins them for 18 holes.”

We caught up with Skinner by email. Check out his hilarious video and an interview with this non-Satanic partner, after the jump.

The hot associates “don’t get mistreated. They look good and earn great big checks,” he sings. “When they work one evening, there’s only one purpose — to have cheap in-office sex.”

What else rhymes with sex? Here’s one of the videos from the Midlife Crisis Cabaret:

Jerry O’Connell, for one, took Skinner’s advice: dumping real law school for being a TV lawyer. Another thing that’s better about being a lawyer on TV: non-existent TV law school debt.

We caught up with Rob Skinner by email and asked him a few questions about his cabaret:

ATL: How was the Midlife Crisis Cabaret received? Did the show go as you had hoped?

As with any Extreme Amateur performance, the audience experience evolved throughout the evening. First was bewilderment, followed by pained embarrassment for me. Finally, when the audience realized they had no reason to be concerned about my dignity if I wasn’t, I believe they really enjoyed themselves — if not laughing with me, at least laughing near me. And what more could a guy ask?

ATL: What do your partners make of this sideline of yours?

Even biglaw partners need an outlet. Some golf, some do fantasy baseball; I engage in self-mockery set to music. My partners have been very good-natured about my cabaret proclivities, I think in large part because it makes sailing and tennis look so macho by comparison.

ATL: Midlife crisis: most men go out and buy sports cars (or engage in more problematic behavior). How did you decide to do a cabaret?

I recently turned 40, and not graciously. As with so many of my peers, my midlife crisis was launched the day I learned that there is in fact an age limit to audition for American Idol — and that age is well south of 40. Thus, my cabaret was a spirited yet ultimately pathetic attempt to prove my continuing virility — sort of like the opening dance scene in West Side Story is supposed to look like gang violence. But it was still far cheaper than a Ferrari.

ATL: Did you do the Parody at HLS?

I did not do the Parody at HLS, as I sadly still took myself seriously in my 20s. I was on the Law Review, and already married, and thus I did develop a well-honed parody of a decent spouse — though the Sondheim accompaniment was added much later.

ATL: Do you have any future productions in the works? Are you hoping to turn this into a full-time endeavor?

Remarkably, my wife and kids still cling to the old cliché of owning our home. This, and the fact that The Law is God’s one true calling for me, mean that a career shift is not in the cards.

ATL: We understand that you plied the audience liberally with libation — true?

On advice of counsel, I must refrain from answering this question until receiving an advisory opinion regarding certain outstanding dram shop issues.

Rainbow Redux [YouTube]


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