Updated: Jan 8
Meet Jennifer Carty, Comedy Musician at Law
Jennifer is an Assistant Attorney General (“AAG”) in the Criminal Appeals Section of the Colorado Office of the Attorney General, representing law enforcement interests in order to respond when defendants challenge their felony convictions in the Colorado and federal appellate courts. Cases range from sentencing appeals to complex crimes of violence, wrongs to children, domestic violence, fraud, computer crimes, drug offenses, and organized crime. As of May 2020, Jennifer currently serves as Executive Secretary of the Colorado Women’s Bar Association for the 2020-2021 term. Congratulations, Jennifer!
After devoting five years as an active duty maritime inspections officer for the United States Coast Guard, Jennifer decided to attend law school and graduated from the University of Denver in 2015. She continues to serve on the Coast Guard Reserve as an attorney, assisting military members with a variety of legal issues in the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Mirma.
Jennifer Carty’s work as an AAG requires her to provide ethical representation in each case. However, her heightened awareness of ethics issues arising in the practice of law does not end here. Jennifer joined The Law Club in 2018 as a member of the chorus, as well as a soloist. By drawing on her own wealth of experience in the law, Jennifer is motivated to continue participating in the legal association because she’s able to provide a service to her legal community. “If you have to get ethics CLE credits, what better way than through song and dance?” It also allows her to focus her energy on a creative outlet that’s outside the demands of being a practicing attorney.
Given that the audience you’re performing for consists of your legal colleagues, how do you prepare for these song-filled events? “Wine. Kidding! Really, this is far less stressful than “performing” in court. We rehearse for a number of months twice per week. We hold dress rehearsals, we do vocal warmups, and then the show is on!”
When asked why teaching attorneys the proper ethical responsibilities is an important issue, Jennifer shared, “Despite the class we take and the MPRE we had to pass, lawyers are still getting into trouble on a regular basis. If we can do anything to make someone think twice before ruining their career, then we have done something good. Shout-out to the CWBA public policy committee members for their work on convincing the Supreme Court to modify Rule 8.4 and make sexual harassment explicitly prohibited!”
The Law Club (“TLC”) is a musical group dedicated to ethical conduct education through song, wit, and commentary. Founded in 1914, The Law Club is one of the oldest legal associations in Denver. However, women were not accepted into the legal association until 1982! Mary F. Lathrop (for whom the CWBA gives an annual award) was the first woman to address TLC during a presentation on the ABA Convention of 1925. Meanwhile, the CWBA, founded in the late 1970’s, provided its own performances – a group of men and women who called themselves the “Untimely Motions” performed for CWBA conventions and reprisals in Denver to raise money for legal and educational charities for the benefit of women and children. The notoriety of the Untimely Motions was seen by some CWBA members as a contributing factor that contributed to the Law Club’s reconsideration of permitting women to join!
Today, TLC continues its 106 year tradition of gathering to discuss a variety of ethical issues in the legal profession through two CBA-CLE continuing legal education ethics programs. The Law Club hosts a comedic legal educational luncheon each month - typically providing 1 hour of general CLE credit. Secondly, members of The Law Club and the CBA Ethics Committee produce and perform annually to present legal issues in a song-filled and witty manner. The shows are always different… though not always on purpose. They all have one thing in common - laughter and plenty of it.
For better or worse, which TLC event is the most memorable to you? “The Judicial Conference – not many people (particularly judges) knew that I could sing (for obvious reasons, I don’t generally walk around work bursting into song!). Judges and attorneys generally have to be quite serious around each other, so it was nice to connect with them in an artistic way.”
How does TLC manage to further educate the legal community about the historical roots of ethical issues arising today? “You have to get ethics credits no matter what. How often are you able to keep your attention focused on a death-by-power-point presentation for ethics? The Law Club is WAY more engaging – it’s interactive, funny, and musical. You get to watch the judiciary jam and lay down some blackstone beats! The cast is irreverent and talented and will keep your attention while singing about ethics to catchy tunes you already know and love. And you get to have a glass of wine and food while you learn!”
For a parting excerpt, Jennifer shared with us a 2018 spoof on Harry Style’s “Sign of the Times” about saving files in the cloud and Rule 1.6 Confidentiality of Information:
Just stop your crying
It's a sign of the times.
Your precious little client files
Will all be in my hands quite soon.
You can say “It’s fine. They are all in the cloud.”
They look pretty safe up there.
But they ain't really safe.
If you don’t read Rule One-Point-Six,
You may think you can store all of your files
In the cloud
With no doubt.
But you must learn to protect the things
That your dear clients have given you--
But it’s too late now
‘Cuz your server’s been hacked.
You made your password 1-2-3.
And now your info stays with me.
Stop your cryin’ lawyer; it’ll be alright
Just give me one million bucks
And I’ll return it all, I swear!
To learn more about The Law Club, please visit: https://www.thelawclub.org. Feel free to also check out the CLE-CBA website for next year’s show dates!
Hannah Yearout is a student at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.