When she heads off for a day of work, Susan Rabin of Sayegh & Pham makes sure she’s got all the briefs and papers she’ll need for a day at the office. Oh, and her ukulele.
No, she’s not a luau lawyer. Her second career as a singer/performer started eight years ago with folk-jazz group Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks and with her own band, The Sinners. When she’s not representing clients in the entertainment industry, she hits the road and performs all over the world, from downtown L.A. to uptown Tokyo.
It’s tricky to manage two demanding careers. “It’s not just the time issue, but also the image issue,” Rabin says. “I want to be respectable as a lawyer and yet not be seen as just a dabbler in the entertainment world, but a real artist.”
Sometimes those two worlds blend together. On the road, she often gives informal legal advice to the band, despite her general policy of separating her two lives. Not that being a lawyer hasn’t come in handy.
“One time, we had a dispute with our label, and I refused to accept the money they were offering us — it was insulting,” says Rabin. “After a while, they begrudgingly upped the money for all their musicians because of my complaints. I don’t think it was just because I was making myself obnoxious, but because they were afraid of what I could do with my knowledge of entertainment law.”
At the end of the day, Rabin, who is also an award-winning playwright, is usually exhausted from balancing the two careers, but absolutely loves both. She says she tries not to worry about her practice when she’s on the road, and vice versa.
“I just focus on whatever world I’m in at the time.”