Last Thursday, the Highball in Austin was reserved for a very special event: the annual gathering of local attorneys who are ready to let down their guards, have some fun with colleagues, and show the world that there is more to them than their JDs. Created and presented by the Austin Asian American Bar Association, this year’s Attorneys in the Arts featured singing, dancing, traditional Indian drumming, and magic—just to name a few of the acts performed to a packed room of attendees.
Founded by AAABA Artistic Director Christine Hoang three years ago, the event highlights attorneys with creative passions. Hoang herself has experienced what can happen when hobbies take a back seat to the demands of law, family, and other life responsibilities. “I always had the artist in me that I suppressed,” she told the Texas Bar Journal in March. When time allowed, Hoang decided to devote more energy to nurturing her creative side—and the joy and work-life balance she found in doing so led her to encourage other attorneys to do the same.
Some of the performances on Thursday were hilarious, like Lawrence Chang and Jessica Vu’s legal-themed parody of the Justin Bieber song “Baby” (see above photo), in which Chang played guitar and sang and Vu rapped (imagine a revised chorus of “Guilty, Guilty, Guilty”).
Other acts were sweet and touching, like Ray Langenberg’s guitar and vocal performance of a love song he wrote for his wife and Adam Schramek’s musical magic act that he hoped would win his wife’s heart back from David Copperfield.
Then there were two deeply moving storytelling performances, including Cari Bernstein’s piece about traveling to Europe every year with her dearly beloved (and irritating) parents, as well as Hoang’s piece about growing up Vietnamese and another about her friend’s recent mastectomy.
Many of the night’s performances were a showcase of impressive musical talent, from Shiv Naimpally playing the traditional Indian drums called tabla, Robert Ranco playing keyboard and singing John Prine’s “Angel from Montgomery,” and Lee Simmons playing guitar and singing an original song. For the last performance of the evening, many of the attorney-musicians formed into their recently created band, The Appeal, to sing The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven” and a medley of Prince.
Throughout the event, the audience members, many of whom were also attorneys, laughed and listened raptly as they were transported away from the office and courtroom for a brief, entertaining moment. Making all of this even more worthwhile, proceeds from the event benefited the St. Baldrick’s Foundation that funds research to cure childhood cancers.