Buttoned-Up Lawyers Show

They Know How to Get Down

In this buttoned-up town, law firms can seem the most buttoned-up outfits of them all. Organizers of the first-ever Battle of the Law Firm Bands tried to change that Thursday night.

At the event, bands whose members work at some of the District's largest law firms competed for bragging rights over whose performance could raise the most for charity. Lawyers at major local firms like Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, Sidley Austin Brown & Wood LLP, and Kirkland & Ellis LLP traded their suits for blue jeans as they took the stage at Grog & Tankard, an often raucous bar in upper Georgetown, to strut their stuff.

They belted out a string of rock tunes, heavy on cover songs from the 1960s and 70s. The room was crowded with summer associates from the firms, brought there to show how much fun working as an associate at a Washington law firm can be (there seemed to be somewhat fewer regular associates, who often work 90 hour weeks).

Grog & Tankard is the sort of bar where cigarette smoke hangs in the air and the standard order is for beer, but this night there were a preponderance of red wine drinkers.

Early in the evening, the room was too crowded to move. By 11:30 p.m., the time the last band, Foxy Rebo, representing Ross Dixon & Bell LLP, was singing "Son of a Preacher Man," only a few dozen people remained.

The event raised about $10,000 for its sponsor, Gifts for the Homeless, money that will go to feed and clothe the homeless in Washington. In addition to the $10 cover charge, attendees "voted" for their favorite bands by putting cash in a jar. Carol Weiser, one of the organizers and a partner at Sutherland Asbill & Brennan, took the stage to accept the award on behalf of the winning act, Sweet Lew & the Jayhawks.

The group won with skilled renditions of "I Saw Her Standing There" by the Beatles and "Summertime Blues" by the Who. Fans put $592 in their jar.

But Sweet Lew, it seems, was already in bed by that time. So were the Jayhawks.

"They had to catch a 6 a.m. flight out of Dulles," said Weiser, explaining why Sutherland partner Tom Conner and his bandmates couldn't accept their title in person.

-- Neil Irwin