Winters Can Rock

Busy Seattle patent lawyer Steve Winters finds time to jam with his band, Morris Can Fly

Published in 2008 Washington Super Lawyers Magazine — June 2008

One of Seattle's most musical lawyers has just released a new CD.

It's the second release by Steve Winters and his rock group, Morris Can Fly. The first one sold more than 2,000 copies and included a single that was played on college radio and in some smaller markets.

Winters has been drawn to music since childhood. "I wrote my first song at 9," he says. It was called "Pepper and Salt Don't Mix," a tune about unrequited love. In addition to writing music, he plays five instruments: guitar, bass, drums, harmonica and piano. Plus, he sings.

But his life hasn't been all about music. In his teens, Winters lived on an Israeli kibbutz for four months. "I squished grapes and picked up chicken poop," he says wryly.

Time on a kibbutz—his idea, not his parents'—isn't the only unusual entry on the pre-law life résumé of Winters, an intellectual property lawyer at Seattle's Lane Powell. For example, from 1983 to 1988, he worked in the Los Angeles office of Bozell Worldwide, an international marketing and advertising agency. Starting in the mail room —"pretty humbling," he says—Winters worked his way up to director of research and strategic planning.

He left Bozell because he needed a change and because the first Morris Can Fly—a name that emerged from one of its bass player's dreams—had inked a record deal.

The band released a single, Walk on Water. But playing in the band didn't generate much income, and Morris Can Fly disbanded. Winters took various jobs in the entertainment industry to make ends meet. Tired of struggling financially, he shifted gears and in 1989 enrolled in law school at the University of Southern California.

Winters' law practice involves complex intellectual property transactions involving the science, media and technology industries. His clients have included the Rolland System Group (producer of high-tech electronics), Old Castle Pre Cast (a large construction firm), the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and Nordstrom. For many clients, he acts as general outside intellectual property counsel. "It's sort of like managing a project," he says.

Last year, his firm represented Nordstrom in the sale of its Faconnable division, which sells high-end tailored men's and women's clothing.

Despite a busy practice, Winters, the single dad of an adopted 9-year-old boy from Guatemala, finds time for music. His current band, also named Morris Can Fly, plays corporate shows, weddings and clubs. Winters describes its music as New Detroit rock. In February, the band played at the Seattle Heart Ball 2008, an American Heart Association fundraiser. Every year, it plays at Lawyerpalooza, a musical fundraiser for arts programs at local schools.

Winters is content with the balance in his life. His law career pays the bills and satisfies him intellectually. "Music," he says, "enables me to remain sane in an insane world."

The CDs, Morris Can Fly I and II, can be purchased at cdbaby.com/morriscanfly2 or at amazon.com (search "Morris Can Fly.") To hear a sample song, click on this story on lawandpolitics.com.

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