Being a lawyer and a rock musician may not be the most obvious combination, but it has worked well for Akron lawyer John Casalinuovo. During the day, he serves as the magistrate of the Summit County Probate Court, but after hours you will find him playing keyboard with his fellow band members in the rock band 45 rpm.
Casalinuovo has been drawn to both music and the law from a very young age. One of the people who influenced his career choice most was lawyer and family friend Charles Scanlon. Casalinuovo says of his mentor, Scanlon, “He is a great man and a great lawyer who is committed to helping people.” Since becoming a magistrate, Casalinuovo has followed Scanlon’s example by being a mentor to other lawyers and supporting programs like the Ohio Lawyers Assistance Program, which helps members of the legal profession deal with substance abuse and mental health issues.
When Casalinuovo was 11, his father bought him his first electric guitar. Since then, music has always been an important part of his life. While he was in college and law school, writing and recording music allowed him to relax and deal with the pressure of classes. After finishing law school, he started a band called 45 rpm with some of his friends. The band started out as a hobby, but over the next 12 years it grew into a professional group that has played at nearly 600 events and is only getting stronger. They have performed at venues including summer festivals in Malvern, Garrettsville, Fairlawn, and Akron, as well as the annual Green Relay For Life in Green, Ohio.
One of Casalinuovo’s best band memories is of a summer concert three years ago. The band was playing in an outdoor amphitheater before a full audience. As the sun was beginning to set, the band played “Nights in White Satin” by the Moody Blues. He explained, “We do this particular song because audiences don’t usually hear it from a variety cover band and it brings people back in time. I guess we did it well that evening. We got a standing ovation from approximately 3,500 people.”
Casalinuovo has been an active member of the Ohio State Bar Association for more than 20 years and has served on the Lawyers Assistance Committee. Presently, he belongs to the Judicial Administration and Legal Reform Committee. The committee helps promote better communication among members of the legal profession, which Casalinuovo believes is vital to addressing one of his concerns: what he sees as the waning level of professionalism among lawyers. He explains, “As a magistrate, I see too many attorneys let themselves get caught up in the emotion of a case, whether it’s because of pressures from clients or the feeling that they need to win at all costs.” He concludes, “The best way to address the issue is through education and leading by example.”
Casalinuovo earned his undergraduate degree in education from the University of Akron and his law degree from the University of Akron School of Law. He currently lives in Akron with his wife and two sons, Michael and Christopher, who have started their own band and are continuing their father’s musical legacy.