Opening Statements

An Award-Winning 'Response'


Photo montage courtesy of Sig Libowitz

There aren’t many practicing lawyers with backgrounds as charac­ter actors on television. And there are even fewer whose acting career includes both The Sopranos and Law & Order.

But there’s definitely only one lawyer who also can say he wrote, acted in and produced The Response, a courtroom drama based upon actual transcripts of a Guantanamo Bay military tribunal: Sig Libowitz, a litigation associate in the Washington, D.C., office of Venable.

“Sig is inspirational, creative and, at the same time, a very talented lawyer,” says Venable managing partner Karl Racine. “In addition to the film, Sig played an important role in several white-collar investigative matters. He does it all.”

Libowitz worked in the entertainment industry before going to law school. But it was during a law school class on national security at the University of Maryland that his interests coalesced. As part of the class curriculum, Libo­witz began reading portions of a public transcript of a military tribunal that had been conducted at Guantanamo Bay, and the seeds of The Response began to germinate.

The resulting 30-minute film gives viewers a window into the tribunal pro­cess from the viewpoint of the judges. The Response received the 2009 Ameri­can Bar Association Silver Gavel Award for drama and literature.

“The film allows us to put a human face on the de­tainee and the military judges so we can understand what the choices are,” says Libowitz of his film, the first one he also wrote and produced.

Shot in three days at the University of Maryland School of Law, the film pulls in some major talent: Kate Mulgrew, Peter Riegert and Aasif Mandvi. Libowitz lists Venable as an executive producer and says the firm “encouraged me to spread my wings.”

“Obviously it wasn’t billable work, but they supported it,” Libowitz says. “If I had made a horror film or a romantic comedy, I think the firm would have said, ‘Oh, that’s nice,’ but that’s about it. But because this film is about an important legal and constitutional area, Venable got involved.”

Web extra:

Video clips of The Response.

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