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Jax Daily Record Monday, Mar. 17, 200812:00 PM EST

Jacksonville's got talent

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And its legal community can prove it
by: David Ball

Jacksonville lawyers aren’t buttoned-down, straight-laced legal robots who only think about courtrooms, briefs and a favorable ruling. At least, that’s what local attorney Rose Marie Preddy is determined to prove.

Preddy is helping to put on “There Oughta Be a Law,” Jacksonville’s first ever legal variety show to benefit Jacksonville Area Legal Aide (JALA) and the Jacksonville Bar Association’s Foundation Fund. The event is scheduled for June 27 at the Times Union Center’s Terry Theatre.

Preddy said she read a story in the New Yorker magazine several years ago about the New Jersey Bar putting together a group of performing lawyers that was a huge success and raised money for charity, and she thought the same could work in Jacksonville.

“When I approached the Jacksonville Bar president (Caroline Emery), she immediately got it,” said Preddy. “The only question was, is there any talent in Jacksonville?”

Thursday was the final day of open auditions, and Preddy said she can now definitively say many, many members of Jacksonville’s legal community have talent beyond law.

“Once we started to get the word out, people started coming out of the woodwork,” she said. “Big firms, small firms, state offices, law school students and professors, they all wanted to show their stuff.”

More than two-dozen acts are already signed up, including many musicians performing jazz and blues, classical and opera singing and plenty of instrumental performances. Actors performing monologues and ensemble skits are also on the docket as is a stand-up comedian.

And it’s not all attorneys. Preddy said at least a half-dozen judges are hoping to perform but are anxiously awaiting an opinion from the Florida Supreme Court regarding judges’ ability to participate in fundraising efforts if it benefits only the nonprofit legal community.

“We’re hoping to hear something soon, and this should open the doors for them to participate more in other events,” said Preddy.

During Thursday’s audition at Unity Church near Five Points, attorney Lynn Martin sang, Roger Groves played a blistering piano and Karen Burr performed a passage from “Through the Looking-Glass,” by Lewis Carroll, her voice jumping between the characters of Alice, the Red Queen and the White Queen.

All were judged by Deborah McDuffie, music director and founder of Arts4Jax, a nonprofit that provides in-depth instruction and guidance in fine arts for youths in Jacksonville. It’s McDuffie’s job to produce the event, and all the acts appeared to receive favorable responses.

However, a crowd favorite had to have been the musical stylings of The Restitution: Attractive Nuisance Band. Florida Coastal School of Law professor Susan Daicoff performed with former student David Zedonek and current student Jon Baker.

The musical tunes were well known but added lyrics familiar to many a lawyer. The music of “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” was sung with the words, “The evidence is circumstantial.” Other songs humorously covered topics of adverse property possession, unjust enrichment and other concepts band member Kiki Herbst (not present) wrote to help her study the concepts while at Florida Coastal.

“It’s kinda like ‘Schoolhouse Rock,’ but for lawyers,” said Zedonek, who joined the constantly changing lineup of the group at the behest of Daicoff.

“We’d perform on the back patio at the school or sometimes in class and it took off,” he said. “Some people would hear us and say, ‘That’s cool,’ and bring their guitar out the next day. Then the same number of people would say, ‘What are you doing? Why aren’t you guys studying?’”

While Thursday was the last open audition, Preddy said people can schedule private auditions until Thursday. She said organizers are also looking for visual artists such as painters, sculptors and photographers who want to display their work at the June 27 performance.

Form more information on the event or to schedule an audition, contact Preddy at 651-1919 or [email protected].

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