The Law Club Adds Some Razzle Dazzle to Lawyers’ Lives
by Natalie Lucas
Attorneys looking for a creative outlet need look no further. The Law Club, one of the oldest legal associations in Denver, provides opportunities for any individual who has musical or comedic talent, and even for those who don’t.
Originally formed in 1914, the Law Club began as an activity for young lawyers who wanted to be more involved in the Colorado Bar Association. Several young lawyers started the group to perform a spoof act at the annual bar association conference. When the annual bar association conference ended in the late 1990s, the Law Club took any opportunity it could find to perform.
“We would perform at any event—even a PetSmart opening—to get an audience,” said Valerie McNaughton, who met her husband, Judge Fred Rodgers, in the Law Club.
Luckily, the club got an established show when the bar association suggested it perform an annual Ethics Revue, where legal ethics meet song, dance, and comedy. The Law Club has performed the revue at Lannie’s Clocktower Cabaret in downtown Denver for the past few years. The club also performs for the Inns of Court, the annual Colorado Judicial Institute Judicial Excellence for Colorado Dinner, and several judicial conferences. Last year, the club performed at the state Supreme Court Judicial Conference, which hosted Supreme Court justices from across the nation.
One need not necessarily be musically talented or inclined to be a Law Club member. In fact, the current president, Gregory Cairns, claims his singing abilities are the “absolute worst.” There are plenty of ways to participate in the shows and in the club, even if one isn’t an opera diva. Members can also act in, write songs for, and help manage the shows.
“We are purveyors of the lost art of the written word,” Cairns said.
Members also simply enjoy socializing with each other. The Law Club hosts a monthly lunch at the University Club, which typically includes a presentation or CLE seminar, and an annual party. New members, however, should be forewarned that the meetings may not be serious scholarly events. Instead, “the reading of the minutes is like listening to a stand-up comedy act,” Cairns said.
He added that the Law Club is a wonderful opportunity to participate with members of the judiciary and the Bar. “You get to know judges up close and personal and on a first-name basis,” he said.
The Law Club is also famous for its “Green Book,” which has recorded the history of the club for almost 90 years. Phil James, a long-time club member, reviewed the early chronicled years in the “Green Book.”
“They seemed pretty serious for the first 20 years. Then, things fell apart in 1935 when somebody with a sense of humor was accidentally invited to join,” he said.
The club began as an all-men’s group, but opened to women in the 1980s. Today, it’s a diverse club of all ages, including attorneys, judges, and law clerks.
The Law Club currently has approximately 100 members. Although its leadership includes traditional roles of president, vice-president, secretary, and treasurer, committee chairs have been known to hold titles such as king, queen, countess of appeals, and Web prince of Bellaire.
Time commitment to the Law Club depends on level of participation. A producer of a show must put in many hours, but a chorus person needs only a few hours to prepare for shows.
The Law Club performs songs ranging from Broadway show tunes from the 1920s to Lady Gaga songs, and everything in between.
“We have more talent than we know what to do with,” McNaughton said. New members, however, are encouraged to join, whether new to the Bar or practicing law for a number of years.
“The Law Club allows us to remember that lawyers have two sides of their brain,” Cairns said. “The one rule of the Law Club is that there are no rules. It is the most fun I have had in 28 years of practicing law.”