If being a lawyer wasn't their job, you might have thought rocking out was.
With soaring guitar solos, gritty wails, and even a keytar at the sixth annual Banding Together: The Battle of the Law Firm Bands contest last night, rocking out was exactly that lawyers from some of Washington's top law firms were doing.
The event, held at the Black Cat, pitted eleven bands against one another in a friendly showdown in which the winner would be selected by how many votes they brought in from the crowd. And by votes, we mean money.
In what event promoters billed as "Chicago-style" voting, each vote cost a dollar, and everyone was encouraged to vote early and often. All proceeds benefited Gifts for the Homeless, which provides clothing and blankets to more than 30 homeless shelters in the Washington area.
The 1,000-strong crowd must have been paying attention because this year's competition brought in over $80,000, once sponsorships and other donations were thrown in. (Full disclosure: Legal Times was a sponsor.)
Gifts for the Homeless president Carol Weiser, a Sutherland partner, said this year's total was a bit down from last year, but she was impressed just the same.
"With the economy the way it is and with how many associate programs are struggling, we were thrilled," Weiser said.
You wouldn't have known the totals had dipped by the crowd. Judging the contest solely on audience enthusiasm, Williams & Connolly's Dangerous Communication Device [right] was the early favorite. (Put it this way, by the time DCD was through playing, there were seven pairs of women's underwear on stage. Seriously.) DCD pulled out a cheeky punk version of The Clash's "I Fought the Law and the Law Won," a fitting selection for a law firm band, really.
But Sutherland's Waterson and WMD and the Bad Ass Brass Band, composed of lawyers from Latham & Watkins and the Law Office of Richard Goldberg, gave them a run for their money. Waterson scored major crowd points when financial analyst Gary Aiken broke out his keytar for the band's cover of the Smashing Pumpkins' "Cherub Rock." And WMD played a sweet version of Stevie Wonder's "Superstition." It's a safe bet that President Obama, a known Stevie fan, would have approved. Sadly, he wasn't there. Maybe next year?
In the end though, DCD scored their second win in as many years, bringing in over $15,000 for Gifts for the Homeless. Though lead singer Paul Hourihan, a partner at Williams & Connolly, drew some gasps from the crowd when he said, "This may be the last year DCD plays together so we thank you for coming out." DCD drummer David Gerkin, a senior paralegal at Williams & Connolly, declined to elaborate, saying cryptically, "I would love to be back here next year, but you never know how things are going to play out."
Everyone interviewed by the BLT said the contest was simply a way to have fun while raising money for a worthy cause.
"Lawyers make so much money, so as much as the Washington legal community is hurting in this economy, there are a lot of people out there who are hurting astronomically more," Buchner said.
More photos after the jump.