Movie night, I heard more than once on Wednesday, was a misnomer. Convention organizers worked mightily to convince conventioneers about the event’s true nature, and about the evening’s value.

First of all, we learned, they would be showing a number of legal movies, but it wasn’t going to be a movie screening. Only portions would be shown.

And yes, there was going to be a live band—Sugahbeat—who had played at conventions past. But they, and the food, would all combine to complement the movies and the experience. It was a cool, hybrid thing.

Well, I bit. And I had a good time. But convention-attendees may not have gotten the message, as the room was pretty sparsely attended (in all fairness, I left by about 6:45, so it could have picked up and started hopping after I left—which happens with many parties).

That’s too bad, because a crowd would have enjoyed watching Chicago, Legally Blonde, Erin Brockovich and My Cousin Vinny. But still, the format would have made that a challenge.

That’s because the talented Sugahbeats were the sound in the room—the movie volumes were all off. We should be thankful for that, in a way, because (1) the band is really good and (2) four competing movies would cause a migraine. But more than once I caught myself thinking that the band was great and the movies, silent though they were, were a distraction. But then I would gaze at the screen and think, “That’s a great scene! I wish I could hear it again without the band playing.” I mean, Joe Pesci uttering “yoots” or regaling the judge with an explanation of his clothing suggestion? That begs to be heard. (For that amazing scene, go here.)

I may not be the only one to have felt that way. At least once—as the band covered Rehab by Amy Winehouse—the lead singer stared past the tables of listeners to look into the eyes of Julia Roberts as the plucky Brockovich. Roberts held the singer’s gaze for more than a few beats, and I could swear that the crooner wished, just for a moment, to watch that cool scene beginning to end.

I hear you, sister. I hear you.

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Just last month, I took a moment to wish Dan McAuliffe a happy birthday. Though he passed away a year ago, he is still on the minds of many in the Arizona legal community.

That was clear yesterday, as a remarkable CLE commemorated his life—and his love for the intersection of media and ethics.

Throughout the morning, a packed audience sat in the State Bar of Arizona CLE Center—named in honor of McAuliffe—and watched selections of the man’s favorite legal movies and TV shows. All of the clips were taken from his own collection, some of which, the moderator told us, appear to have been videotaped with a handheld device while the TV broadcast a show.

Peppered among the clips, of course, was discussion about what was professional or, more likely, unprofessional, in the clips.

Shirley Wahl McAuliffe speaks as Pat Sallen (center) and Ed Novak listen, April 27, 2011

Panelists were selected for their knowledge of ethics and of Dan.

Larry Cohen recalled how he had offered his own version of ethical lessons from the movies, only to be heckled by a fellow he later came to know was Dan. They met and “agreed it would be a lot more fun to do the programs together.” All that Dan required, Larry said, was that programs had to contain clips from “My Cousin Vinny” and the opening statement from “And Justice for All.”

“Dan made ethics accessible to people by making it fun,” Larry added.

Also on the panel were lawyers Lynda Shely, Ed Novak and Jim Lee. It was moderated by the State Bar’s Ethics Counsel, Pat Sallen. Each was adept at seasoning their ethical lessons with stories of Dan and his influence on the profession.

The event opened with clips from McAuliffe’s favorite lawyer movie: “My Cousin Vinny.” As Dan’s widow Shirley Wahl McAuliffe said, “Any movie that can take a pro hac vice application and turn it into a running joke” would earn Dan McAuliffe’s love.

If you haven’t seen it, get out there and rent it. But until then, enjoy this clip from a courtroom scene.