10,000 Song Maniac

Andy Gillin

Published in 2010 Northern California Super Lawyers — August 2010

Andy Gillin’s numbers are impressive by any count. A personal injury attorney for more than 35 years, Gillin and his firm have captured more than $500 million in some of California’s biggest cases. But if one had to pick the soundtrack of his life from his music collection, they would have a lot of work to do: Gillin has more than 10,000 songs in his iTunes account.

His adult children complain that Gillin’s taste is stuck in the 1960s and ’70s, but a scroll through his iPod reveals eclectic preferences. From AC/DC to ZZ Top, Gillin admits that he emphasizes oldie-but-goodie performers like the Grateful Dead, The Byrds and Janis Joplin. But he also adores discovering newer musicians like The National, Steve Earle and The Hold Steady, as well as geeking out over obscure groups like Moby Grape.

Music has been an integral part of Gillin’s life since he started out as a legal aid lawyer in the early 1970s. He often would go to concerts and hang out with the hippies, who called him a square for splitting early because of work. Eventually Gillin found a way to marry his two passions and represented Billy Kreutzmann, a Grateful Dead drummer, on some legal matters.

Gillin has 2,000 songs loaded on his iPod at once, and when he gets tired of those tunes he swaps them out for fresh beats. As he works on high-stakes cases for clients—who often have been traumatically injured, burned, paralyzed—the music cuts the pressure and helps him focus. “These cases are very hard fought and demanding,” he says, “and it’s nice to step back from it and groove your way through part of your day.”

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