Order in the Chorus

Justin Klimko’s musical parodies target most everyone

Published in 2007 Michigan Super Lawyers — September 2007

By day, Justin Klimko handles mega-deals, like the recent  $50 million sale of a U.S.-based defense contracting firm to an Israeli buyer.

But by night—about a dozen times a year—Klimko, a corporate transactions attorney at Butzel Long in Detroit, takes aim at the legal profession and just about everyone else as a member of A (Habeas) Chorus Line, a musical parody troupe. 

As the group’s sole lyricist, Klimko has penned such remakes as “That Old BlackBerry” (performed to “That Old Black Magic”), “Buy Viagra” (to “Bye Bye Birdie”) and “Dye Jobs Are a Girl’s Best Friend” (to “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend”). 

“It’s enormous fun and a good creative outlet,” says Klimko, who has been with Butzel Long since 1980. “It’s a way to blow off some steam.” 

Klimko—who writes on the group’s Web page, “If we can’t laugh at ourselves … we’ll laugh at you”—says he has a more serious demeanor at work. “A lot of people see me perform and say, ‘That’s him?’”

The group of nine (all but one are lawyers and include an assistant U.S. attorney and a civil defense attorney who does Frank Sinatra impressions) didn’t know each other when they were put together by a colleague of Klimko’s in 1992 to perform what they thought was a one-time engagement for the Detroit chapter of the Federal Bar Association.

Klimko was tagged as the lyricist after gaining fame for acting and singing in some satirical “underground films” that poked fun at the powers-that-be in his firm “back when we were young bucks,” says the Grosse Pointe Woods resident, now 51 and married with three grown children. 

A (Habeas) Chorus Line has been an equal-opportunity offender ever since. The group has three CDs, the last of which is titled “Electile Dysfunction.” 

Klimko tailors the numbers to the audience, like “Leader of Their Plaque” for a dental group. 

“I love to perform,” says Klimko. “It’s a gas.”

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