Legal lampoon troupe keeps the puns coming


Members of the Habeas Chorus Line include (left to right)  Michael Leibson, Justin Klimko, Angela Williams (bending), Jim Robb, Brian Figot, Judy Zorn, Joe LaBella, Mark Lezotte  and Sara Fischer. 

By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Brian Figot loves repeat offenders.
Not that he favors recidivism.
He’s touting the upcoming A (Habeas) Chorus Line show, “Repeat Offenders,” taking satirical pot shots at Toyota recalls, Tea Party rallies, the economic crisis, Chrysler’s future, and more.
The fun will hit the on Friday, Oct. 22 at 8 p.m. in Berkley High School.
The cringe-making puns don’t stop at the name.
The troupe’s songs, shows and CD titles include such zingers as “Electile Dysfunction,” “Days of Swine Neurosis,” “There Is Nothing Like a Claim,” and “See Ya Later, Litigator.” The parodies — and puns — keep on comin’.
So how did Figot — an attorney with Stephen M. Landau PC in Bingham Farms — land among the lampooners?
Back in 1992, the Federal Bar Association Annual Dinner Dance had become somewhat stale and Chapter President Geneva Halliday decided to spice things up with a talent show.
“At a board meeting, she asked if anyone sang, and I said that I had in high school and college but not for many years,” Figot says.
When Figot, a Wayne State University Law School grad, mentioned he had done a solo of “If I Were a Rich Man,” from Fiddler On the Roof, Halliday said the troupe planned a song parody, “If I Were the Chief Judge,” and asked him to contact Lorraine Weber for an audition.
The rest is Habeas Chorus Line history.
“I haven’t missed a show since then,” he says. “Overall, approximately 138 shows, four CDs and 514 different songs — some of them, very different.
“More than anything, I enjoy the people with whom I sing.  Rehearsals are — generally — fun and provide excellent camaraderie and creative outlet. Free M&Ms too.”
Figot practices law full time in a small firm. “It’s just me and Stephen Landau — he goes to court and I do the briefs and research,” he says.
“I’ve been in practice since 1983, starting with a large firm and gradually working down in size seeking a flexible schedule. Twenty-some years ago, it was hard enough to find a ‘mommy track’ — and I wanted the ‘daddy track.’”
Figot also has been Executive Director of the Federal Bar Association, Eastern District of Michigan Chapter, since 2004, “a part-time job that only takes 50-60 hours a week,” he jokes.
Figot’s fellow funsters are: Justin Klimko, a corporate transaction attorney with Butzel Long in Detroit; Michael Leibson, assistant U.S. Attorney in Detroit; Joseph LaBella, an attorney in private practice in Huntington Woods; James Robb, associate dean and general counsel of Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing; Angela Williams, deputy general counsel with the Detroit Housing Commission; Judy Zorn, attorney in private practice in Rochester Hills; Mark Lezotte, an attorney with Hall, Render in Troy who specializes in health care law; and the one non-attorney in the bunch, Sara Fischer Hodges, a former case manager in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.
“Justin Klimko is the parody genius who has written nearly all the songs since the beginning — he’s incredibly eclectic in his musical repertoire and political knowledge,” Figot says. “And Jim Robb programs the synthesizer and is our entire orchestra, band and sound effects man.
“The rest of us contribute what we can, but they are irreplaceable cogs.”
LaBella was a theater and education major at Western Michigan University, and had performed in college and community theater before joining the group.
“Habeas is a wonderful, creative outlet and way to let people see the legal profession in a different light,” he says.
“We’ve become like family, being together more than 18 years.  Because of that, perhaps, we always remind ourselves that every performance could be our last together and we enjoy ourselves as much as the audiences.”
LaBella founded and has directed a drama club at the Shrine of the Little Flower Grade School in Royal Oak for the last six years.
“I tell the kids, and their parents, that while many of my contemporaries have had to give up competitive sports, performing is something that you can do long after you’ve lost a little speed or your joints are a little too stiff,” he jokes.
“Repeat Offenders” is set for 8 p.m. October 22 at Berkley High School, 2325 Catalpa Drived, Berkley.
Tickets are $15, in advance or (if available) at the door. Contact any cast member by calling (313) 438-2425 or e-mail - Visit