Jeremy Gilman practiced as a litigator at Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff for nearly 27 years. The Cleveland resident retired on Aug. 8, the day of his 62nd birthday. The party was just beginning.
Less than a week later, the lifelong music aficionado released a lawyerly titled album called “Ignoring Precedent.” Now, he’s plotting his second album and getting back into fiction writing, while also planning to launch “new media” startups and donate time to protect animals’ rights.
Oh yeah, he’s also started his own solo practice, where he hopes to finally do some work on the plaintiff side of business disputes. Who said life after Big Law had to be boring?
“It’s going to be very busy,” said Gilman, a former co-chair of the class action litigation practice at Benesch, a 195-lawyer firm that got onto the Am Law 200 list this year with $98 million in gross revenue.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Gilman was 8 when he first picked up a guitar. He never took a music class, opting instead to spend hours locked in his boyhood room learning how the strings and frets worked together. Once he conquered that, he taught himself to play the bass. Drums and the keyboard came next.
Gilman performs all the instruments on the album, which consists of 14 covers ranging from The Fugees’ “Killing Me Softly” to “Kokomo” by The Beach Boys. Save for his rendition of The Rolling Stones’ “Honky Tonk Woman,” Gilman does all the vocals.
All the while, he still doesn’t read music. He attributes his musical ear to his mother, a music teacher at an elementary school in Brooklyn.
“She was the kind of person who could just sit at the piano and get lost at playing music for hours on end,” Gilman said. “I must have inherited that gene.”
The gene was activated after a long musical dormancy, dating back to his graduation from Case Western Reserve University School of Law in 1983, when his wife and children gave him a guitar on his 50th birthday. Making his passion-project album took about a year and a half of recording during nights and weekends. He turned one of his adult children’s old bedrooms into a recording studio.
On his second album, which he said will be out sometime in the summer of 2018, Gilman plans to include some original music. In the meantime, the 34-year Big Law veteran is now flying solo.
Having seen changes in the business of law over the decades, Gilman said he wants to move away from the billable hour and take some risk in the form of contingent fees alongside small and mid-size business owners who might otherwise not be able to finance prosecuting claims.
After Labor Day, he plans to launch a blog, Gilman on Law, which will be an outlet for his writing on various topics. Those might include animals’ rights, which he said he has been energized to advocate for because of his wife, an avid animal lover. He also said he’s been working on “new media” projects, which he said are currently in the planning stage and declined to elaborate upon.
Gilman’s album is available on Amazon Music, iTunes, Spotify, YouTube and streaming services in France and Russia. The last song of the album is a cover of REO Speedwagon’s “Time for Me to Fly.”
“That was something of a gentle metaphor that I was leaving behind my life as a lawyer,” Gilman said. “And taking off onto new things.”