Lawyers (Rock) with a Cause
Mercedes Pino is an associate editor of The Affiliate and the Director of Career Services at the St. Thomas University School of Law in Miami Gardens, Florida.
I don’t know anything about music. In my line you don’t have to.
In 2003, in an act of obvious defiance of the quote above, two members of the Hennepin County Bar Association (HCBA) New Lawyers Section started the Attractive Nuisance Tour (ANT), an annual benefit concert of rock bands. Created by Craig Sandok, a legal recruiter, and Greg Wiley, General Counsel of Sherburne County, both from Minneapolis, Minnesota, ANT requires that each participating band include at least one lawyer or law student member.
Currently in its fifth year, Sandok and Wiley created the event in response to a need in the legal community. “Craig and Greg recognized that public funding for organizations that provide pro bono services was being curtailed, and that the private firms and individuals needed to make up the difference. Though there are many local charity events, they wanted to provide a low-cost benefit that just about anyone could support. And, they wanted to demonstrate to the public-at-large that many lawyers are interesting people with musical talent,” said Joy Hamilton, the membership/events director of the HCBA.
In keeping with the co-founders’ vision, proceeds from ANT 2003 benefited the Loan Repayment Assistance Program and the Minnesota Justice Foundation (MJF), an organization that has provided 219,200 hours of service to low-income and public sector communities since its inception in 1983. MJF has already funded over 500 summer clerks and continues to sponsor and fund law student summer clerkships at legal aid offices and public interest organizations. Clerks, working a minimum of 400 hours over the summer, have been placed by MJF at various entities throughout the Twin Cities and greater Minnesota, including the Battered Women’s Legal Advocacy Project, the Minnesota AIDS Project, and the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy. MJF clerkships are open to students from Minnesota’s four law schools and in the summer of 2007, ANT was able to fund five of MJF’s twenty-one clerkships.
After an overwhelming response to ANT in its first year, it was decided that another organization could benefit from the success of the event as well. According to Hamilton, since ANT 2004, the funds have been distributed equally between MJF and the Hennepin County Bar Foundation (HCBF). Founded in 1968, the HCBF supports programs serving several goals. HCBF grants are used to facilitate legal service to individuals with limited resources, to increase public understanding of law-related resources, to increase public understanding of the law, and to improve the administration of justice. Thanks in no small measure to ANT, last bar year the HCBF made twenty-six grants totaling over $103,000. In addition to the grant contributions, ANT has allowed the HCBF to fund new programs, in addition to its traditional providers.
ANT raises funds from ticket sales for the event, along with funds and in-kind donations from sponsors. In its first year, ANT raised over $10,000 and has continued to be a success, raising $57,000 in 2006. The event has turned out to be anything but a “nuisance” to the community, with ANT 2007 showing no signs of slowing down.
ANT 2007 was held October 26 at the Fine Line Music Café in Minneapolis. Thanks to the hard work of co-chairs John Laravuso from Lindquist & Vennum and Cynthia Bremer from Fulbright & Jaworski and the continued commitment of co-founders Sandok and Wiley, planning for the event started the previous spring. Of course, a great part of ANT’s success is due to the participating bands that bring the house down year after year. This year’s line-up included: The Sunny Era, The Swells, Article XX, LadyBender, High on Stress, The Tukes, Cedar Avenue, and Noisy Withdrawal.
According to Hamilton, ANT 2007 will go down in the books as an absolute success, as an estimated 600 people attended. And, although final numbers are not yet in, it is estimated that total monies raised from all five years will be approximately $181,000. Rock on!
For more information about the two beneficiaries, bands, and sponsors, please visit www.attractivenuisancetour.org.