Scales of Justice

Bryce Bennett heads up his firm and his firm’s rock band

Published in 2008 Indiana Super Lawyers — March 2008

The lawyers at Riley Bennett & Egloff march to the beat of their own drummer. He also happens to be one of the firm’s name partners. Along with fellow partners John Egloff, Don Smith and Ray Seach, Bryce Bennett Jr. hits the skins in an all-lawyer band that was formed in 1991. They play classic rock tunes at office parties and social functions, and practice in the firm’s basement.

“Our band is called Attractive Nuisance,” says Bennett, a business litigator. “But with all the rumors circulating downtown, we considered changing our name to Urban Legend!”

Why the rumors? In November, Attractive Nuisance, a la the Beatles, took to the roof of the firm’s five-story Indianapolis office building for a jam session. Nearby office workers could be seen peering at them through binoculars. Word got back to Bennett that some folks thought Keith Urban, who was in town at the time, was on the roof.

Attractive Nuisance may not be as famous as Urban, but they’ve made a few waves in Indy. “We were invited to play at the Indianapolis Press Club but declined because we didn’t want to ruin our professional reputations,” Bennett says with a laugh.

The all-legal band isn’t Bennett’s only musical pursuit. Two years after Attractive Nuisance was born, Bennett joined fellow North Central High School alums Steve Marra, Dave Deer and Wayne Midkiff in creating Dad’s Weird Friends (named by one of Marra’s children). Bennett also performs for the Players and at the Sylvan Beach Resort in Whitehall, Mich., where his family has a cottage.

Bennett fell in love with the drums the night he saw Ringo Starr playing with the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964. When his parents, Betty and Bryce Sr., didn’t share his enthusiasm, the 12-year-old built his own set, making the bass drums out of Allied Van Lines moving boxes. “I made a hi-hat out of my mother’s pie pans and used a music stand and springs for the foot pedals,” Bennett says. His parents eventually came around, and Bennett found an expensive drum set sitting under the tree one Christmas morning.

The self-taught drummer also had a keen entrepreneurial sense. When the family moved from Ann Arbor to Indianapolis in 1966, the teenage Bennett parlayed a lawn-mowing venture into a job with the Indianapolis Parks Department, which funded his tuition to the Kelly School of Business at Indiana University. The Alpha Tau Omega fraternity brother studied finance and graduated with high distinction in 1975.

To pay for law school, Bennett mowed lawns during the day and waited tables at the old Cork ’N Cleaver Restaurant at night. “I was so good at it that I can carry three plates in each hand,” he says, stretching his arms out to hold imaginary trays. “[Now] when I go to buffets, I only need to make one trip!”

In 1978, he graduated magna cum laude from Indiana University School of Law-Indianapolis and helped establish Riley Bennett & Egloff the following year.

Bennett married in 1983 and had three daughters: Amy, Becky and Molly. He later remarried to Donna, a fellow attorney who served as Indiana’s first female insurance commissioner in the mid-’90s, and together they’ve had three sons: Bryce III, Dillon and Luke.

Among other civic involvement, he’s been the vice president of the board of trustees for the Indianapolis Philharmonic Orchestra and for the American Pianists Association. “Bryce was the kind of board member that every executive director dreams of: interested, willing to accept responsibility and creative in ways to improve the organization,” says Jan Rost, the former executive director of the APA. “When he’s playing drums for Players’ musicals, he’s the one with the drum set packed in the back of his car.”

Or in the basement. Or on the roof.

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