Wednesday, March 23, 2016

          Pitch Perfect

          “It’s a great way for students and faculty to come together.” - Legal Notes co-president 3L Megan Miller

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          “It’s a great way for students and faculty to come together."

          Law students have a well-earned reputation as a busy bunch, what with their classes and readings, journals and bar reviews, and internships and externships. For many, adding one more commitment to their packed schedules might represent the last straw.

          Yet for those involved with UC Hastings’ Legal Notes, the eight-year-old student-run music club that gives a performance at the end of each semester, the extra commitment seems to produce precisely the opposite effect.

          “It helps me balance stress and homework,” said 3L Isaac Jackson, the club’s co-president.

          Along with co-president and fellow 3L Megan Miller, Jackson is among the dozen or so vocal- ists who make up the Legal Notes a cappella group. (Jackson arranged all the Legal Notes’ compositions for the 2015 shows.) In addition to the a cappella group, the Legal Notes includes a handful of students who prepare solo or small-group vocals and instrumental performances.

          The club was founded in 2008 by Givi Tibaneli ’10, Eric Chase ’10, and Kaiya Reeve ’11, classically trained musicians who staged a small concert of mostly chamber music, said Professor Lisa Faigman, an expert in forensic evidence in criminal proceedings who plays piano and sings with the Legal Notes. The group has evolved with the influx of new student-musicians and now tends more toward pop and jazz arrangements.

          A recurring highlight of Legal Notes’ performances, which are typically staged in the Law Café the week before exams begin in the fall and spring, involves cameos by UC Hastings faculty. Professor George Bisharat, who teaches criminal procedure and practice and Islamic law, has been known to delight audiences with jazz and blues performances on his chromatic harmonica. In fact, “Big Harp George” (his stage name) was a 2015 Blues Music Awards Best New Artist nominee for his album, Chromaticism.

          “It’s a great way for students and faculty to come together,” Miller said. “We even get alumni who come back for the shows.”

          Professor Hadar Aviram, who teaches criminal justice, performed during the group’s inaugural concert and continues to do so. Adjunct moot court Professor Greg Wolff also takes the stage with the group.

          “It is such an honor and a privilege to be able to perform with each new iteration of Legal Notes,” Faigman said. “It’s wonderful to interact with students completely outside the classroom, making music in a relaxed setting, in which we support and encourage each other.”

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