Two years ago, it was the case against Dewey & Leboeuf. Now, in its annual musical program, the New York American Inn of Court is walking attendees through the life and work of the most notorious member of America’s highest court.
Co-written by Arent Fox associate Michael McMahan and former Dechert law clerk and current visiting professor at Georgetown University Zachary Herz, “Fast Times at Ruth Bader Ginsburg High” follows a group of high school students learning about the U.S. Supreme Court justice while battling their less-than receptive principal.
The performance was set to take place at Cravath, Swaine & Moore’s Eight Avenues offices on Wednesday evening.
“This is my fifth show with the Inn, and this is probably the best one we’ve done so far,” said McMahan, who joined Arent Fox in 2013 after five years at DLA Piper. “I’m really excited about this show.”
Every month the New York Inn conducts a CLE program about a particular subject in the law. But once a year they do a musical program where audience members of the legal community can receive CLE credit.
In 2016, the Inn used the criminal case against Dewey & LeBoeuf executives as inspiration for its musical production. The idea for the Ginsburg musical was developed last fall, but it wasn’t until March that McMahan and Herz began putting pen to paper.
“It always gets done at the last minute,” McMahan joked.
The musical, based on The New York Times best-selling book ”Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg,” combines original storytelling with Broadway and pop hits rewritten with new lyrics about some of the most important moments in Ginsburg’s life.
Singer-turned Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer associate Jessica Caterina will belt out “Cracking Through the Ceiling,” a re-lyricized version of the hit Dear Evan Hansen song, “Waving Through a Window.”
“That song is very powerful,” said McMahan, who co-chairs the musical program at the Inn along with Bruce Turkle, an assistant attorney general in the litigation bureau of the Office of the Attorney General in New York.
There’s plenty of silliness too, like “Damn Alito,” sung to the tune of the summer hit “Despacito,” which decries Justice Samuel Alito’s infamous majority opinion in the 2007 Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber case.
The musical’s cast of 12 includes Big Law attorneys, but also lawyers in public practice, and even New York Appellate Court Justice Barbara Kapnick.
As for his hope for the production, McMahan said he wants the audience to take away what a tireless, persistent advocate Ginsburg has been.
“No matter what your politics are, I think you should be able to take a look at Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s life and what she’s done and find inspiration,” McMahan said.
“She’s just overcome adversity, she’s faced so many obstacles, and the amount of things that she was able to do and still doing [...] she’s just a phenomenal legal mind,” he said.