Presidents Column: Bar None and Then Some
If you have never been to a Bar None show, you have missed a lot of great entertainment. If you have never even heard of Bar None, let me tell you about it. The Bar None show is an annual musical variety show that is created, produced and performed by local lawyers, judges and legal support staff. The show consists of songs, skits and dance numbers written, choreographed and performed by the cast and crew. It features topical humor that pokes fun at the legal profession, current events and life in general. It is hilarious!
Since the inception of Bar None, Martha Hardwick Hofmeister has been the director of the production and Rhonda Hunter has been the principal choreographer. But Martha and Rhonda have had lots and lots of help. This year the DBA Bar None Production Committee is co-chaired by Martha, Rhonda, Tom Mighell, Matthew Anderson, Tena Callahan (Judge of the 302nd District Court), Kent Hofmeister, John Horany and Michele Wong Krause. Each of these co-chairs/assistant directors have performed in the show for many years and regularly play other major roles in the production. Over the years many notable names have appeared in Bar None. For example, the Honorable Jerry Buchmeyer was a Bar None regular and the Honorable Barefoot Sanders and Mayor Ron Kirk made cameo appearances. Bob Jordan, who later became U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, was in the show for many years. In addition, other judges (some of whom are no longer on the bench) are regulars or have appeared in the show, including Tena Callahan, D’Metria Benson, Ron Chapman, David Indorf, Nikki DeShazo, Craig Enoch, Marty Lowy, Jim Martin, Sheryl McFarlin, Henry Politz and Staci Williams. I hope I did not overlook any of the judiciary who have been in the show. Christina Melton Crain, DBA past president, is a regular standout member of the Bar None cast (oh what a voice she has!) and most years the current DBA president makes at least a cameo appearance in the show. Everyone from judges, mediators, arbitrators, in-house counsel, legal aid lawyers, big and small firm lawyers and legal support staff join in the fun of Bar None.
You just have to see the show to appreciate how talented and funny this group of professionals really is. Bob Miller of the Dallas Morning News wrote, “who says anyone versed in the law has no sense of humor? If that’s your opinion . . . obviously you have never seen any of the Dallas Bar Association’s annual Bar None performances.” I have to agree with Mr. Miller.
But there is also a serious side to Bar None. In 1986, when Bar None performed its first show, the organizers decided that all proceeds of the show would be used to benefit the Sarah T. Hughes Diversity Scholarship program at the Southern Methodist University School of Law. Since that time, Bar None has raised over $1.5 million for these scholarships.
The Dallas Bar Foundation established the Sarah T. Hughes Diversity Scholarship program in 1981 to attract exceptional minority law students to SMU. Many of the students have been the first in their families to graduate from college, let alone law school. One of the criteria for these scholarships is that the students must plan to practice law in Dallas. The scholarship program, designed to create a cycle of successful minority lawyers to serve the Dallas community, has done just that. Among the almost 50 Hughes Scholars have been a law school valedictorian, a Dallas city councilman, a criminal court judge, assistant U.S. district attorneys, and attorneys with major law firms. The scholars have served local and state bar associations, non-profit organizations (including Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas) and many other community organizations. One of the Hughes Scholars has been reported to have commented, “this scholarship is a source of empowerment because it places responsibility in the hands of those who have been traditionally underrepresented in the legal community.” Judge Hughes would no doubt be very proud of all of the Hughes Scholars.
Sarah Tilghman Hughes was appointed to the federal bench in the Northern District of Texas in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy and, ironically, in 1963 she administered the oath of office to Lyndon B. Johnson after the assassination of President Kennedy. She is the only woman in U.S. history to swear in a U.S. President. The diversity scholarship program was named after Judge Hughes for her exceptional contribution to the legal profession and especially for her efforts to increase minority involvement in the profession. Today we are continuously reminded about the importance of diversity in the workplace. But we forget about the leaders in the Dallas Bar, like Judge Hughes and others, who have championed this cause for decades. Countless hours go into the Bar None production each year. And while it is a lot of hard work, it is a labor of love for a good cause. Kudos to the cast and crew of Bar None and the DBA and DBF for supporting and promoting diversity in the profession.
This year Bar None XXVIII will present Downton Att’y at the Greer Garson Theater on the SMU campus. The show will run from Wednesday, June 12 through Saturday, June 15. Show times and ticket prices can be found on the DBA website and at www.barnoneshow.com. You can purchase tickets for yourself, your family, your colleagues and friends at the Bar None website. Don’t forget to invite your summer associates to the show—they may just be the future stars of Bar None. I hope all of you will consider coming to the show. I guarantee that you will have a good time. If you cannot make it to the show (and even if you can), I hope you will consider making a contribution to the Dallas Bar Foundation for the benefit of Bar None.
Let’s make this a record breaking year for Bar None and the Sarah T. Hughes Diversity Scholarship program. I will see you at the show!