Law in Popular Culture

BigLaw Attorney Makes His Mark in Viral Metal Band Video Panned as Worst of 2011

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Corrected: By day, Steven A. Delchin is a senior attorney at Squire Sanders & Dempsey specializing in litigation and appellate matters.

But on his off hours he lets his imagination take him far from the corporate world, as a viral YouTube video demonstrates.

Featuring Alternate Reality, a metal band in which Delchin is the lead singer, the video is interwoven with images of key figures drawn from the story of “the king who never was,” Arthur, and those who helped him in his effort to create the utopian Camelot.

The chain-mail-clad characters battle it out, in and around historic Squire’s Castle in Willoughby Hills, Ohio, with swords and a bow and arrow, in a production widely panned as not only one of the worst videos but the worst video of 2011.

Delchin, however, is not complaining.

“We’re thrilled with the publicity,” he tells the ABA Journal, explaining that his hitherto unknown part-time band plays a couple of charity gigs a year and has no commercial aspirations but nonetheless is enjoying its fame while it lasts. “We were on the front page of Yahoo as the worst video of 2011!”

The film has gotten particular attention on Japan videogame websites, where swordplay is popular, and netted him an interview with a Dutch television station, he notes, in addition to capturing the attention of Web legal tabloid Above the Law.

The actors on the video were drawn from the Ohio legal and music community, although Delchin is the only member of the video from Squire Sanders. Dave Overkill of Destructor is the character with whom Delchin crosses swords and his son is the archer shooting from the castle.

And, contrary to what some observers have speculated, special effects such as bolts of lightning zapping from the hands and weapons of some characters were not superimposed by experts.

Unlike a number of other professionally produced videos featured on Yahoo’s worst-of-2011 list, their footage was entirely an amateur effort, Delchin says.

The song featured in the Alternate Reality video was recorded on the computer in his brother’s bedroom and band members played their own instruments and wrote their own song.

“I filmed the video myself, with a $69 Kodak pocket camera,” says Delchin, who was stunned to see his creation go viral earlier this month, right around the time that his 40th birthday hit.

“It was just a bunch of friends,” who “got together, put this together for fun, had a great time doing it this summer and now the whole world knows about it,” he told the ABA Journal.

“I mean, love us or hate us, we did it our way,” he adds. “We didn’t have any corporate rock guy telling us what sound to put out.”

The viral video is not Delchin’s only production credit. At the same time YouTube was putting him on the map as far as the general public is concerned, those in the Columbus and Cleveland legal communities have been enjoying the debut of a 20-minute continuing legal education video that Delchin produced for his law firm to screen.

Primarily featuring 40 of his colleagues from Squire Sanders, it is filmed, in part, in the federal courthouse. He credits his brother and fellow Alternate Reality band member, consumer bankruptcy attorney Bob Delchin, for getting permission to do so.

Again, Steve Delchin says, he put the CLE video together himself on a low budget, without professional assistance, although he did buy a much more expensive consumer camera before starting the project. “I wrote the script, I shot it, I edited it, I did everything,” he said, noting that the filming itself took about four days over a several-week period. After that, “it’s all about the editing.”

The CLE is geared toward in-house counsel, with a fact-packed scenario intended to encourage issue-spotting that revolves around a lawyer who warns a reporter, who is also a friend, about a potential product danger. There’s also an opportunity for the audience to participate by keying in yes or no answers to questions about potential ethics issues.

Like the metal video, “it was a fun time,” he says. But the CLE also serves a business purpose, not only putting the Squire Sanders name in front of potential clients but giving them a chance to see the firm’s lawyers and get a sense of who they are. Having done so, Delchin says, “they’re more likely to pick up the phone and hire them.”

Related coverage:

Cleveland Scene: “Cleveland Band Snags Yahoo!’s Most Epically Awful Video of 2011”

Video Ga Ga (Yahoo): “The Most Epically Awful Videos of 2011: Even Worse Than Rebecca Black”

Updated at 10:38 a.m. to state that Delchin is the only employee of Squire Sanders to be in the music video.


Updated at 10:38 a.m. to state that Delchin is the only employee of Squire Sanders to be in the music video.

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