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Lawyers guitar up for Rockable Hours charity concert

What do you get when you toss a dozen lawyers, law students and faculty members into a room with a bunch of guitars, some drums and an unforgiving stage?

University of Ottawa Law student band The Reasonable Persons performs at last year’s Rockable Hours.

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University of Ottawa Law student band The Reasonable Persons performs at last year’s Rockable Hours.

What do you get when you toss a dozen lawyers, law students and faculty members into a room with a bunch of guitars, some drums and an unforgiving stage?

A three-hour sonic sentence, with no possibility of parole until the show is over. Bail is set at $20.

That’s the idea behind Rockable Hours, a charity music event that encourages lawyers to trade their case files in for battle axes, briefcases for drum sticks and their class-action suits for keyboards to raise money for the Ottawa Food Bank.

“We have four bands and the lawyers are from the law firm Gowling WLG, the Department of Justice and law students from the University of Ottawa law school,” says organizer Albert Chang, also a lawyer with the Canadian Internet Registration Authority.

“It’s kind of a neat group and the event shows a different side of lawyers, so it’s pretty fun.”

The charity show first hit the stage last year at Babylon Night Club and it was highly successful with over $5,000 raised in a few hours. But Chang now sees how far that money can go at the Ottawa Food Bank.

“For every dollar that is donated, they can actually purchase $5 worth of food due to their bulk purchasing power,” he says.

“If someone buys a $20 ticket, that’s actually $100 for the Ottawa Food Bank.”

Chang has been somewhat of a philanthropist over the last several years, hosting charity events for Ontario’s Make-A-Wish Foundation, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada and the Elder Care Foundation of Ottawa, just to name a few. His band Caveat Rumpus was always the catalyst behind these smaller music events, but now with Rockable Hours, and four bands, Chang has given up his guitar for the producer’s chair.

“I found it too much work playing and organizing,” says the lawyer, who likely puts in 12-hour days, as most lawyers do. He said it’s likely more stressful for these lawyers getting up in front of their peers to play tunes than it is standing before a magistrate on judgement day.

“It’s a side that you don’t see of lawyers: having fun, playing in a band and being just like everyone else,” said Chang. The four bands on the bill include Chairman and the Bored, Lex Rock, Caveat Rumpus and the Reasonable Persons.

“I think for a lot of those lawyers, it will be more stressful playing in front of their peers. It’s definitely getting them out of their comfort zones.”

For Chang, he could easily get his lawyers buddies to make a $20 donation every month and raise a pile of money for the food bank every year, but these events do so much more than just raise much-needed cash.

“It’s always good to give back to the community. As lawyers, I think we are in a privileged position and it’s good to give back,” he adds.

“Giving money is one thing, but I wanted to do something where everybody wins. Anybody can donate $20 to the Ottawa Food Bank, but this is a fun event where they are going out and having fun and it raises awareness for the Ottawa Food Bank as well.”

Tickets are $20 at the door or $10 for students with all proceeds going directly to the food bank.

Come out and see if these lawyers know how to rock. This time, you be the judge.

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