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A Family United A Family Divided In The Media

Lawyer, Author Draws More Notoriety With New Song
Faces and Places

Roger Varley, Staff Writer

After the death of his mother, Rose, Les Kotzer wrote a book of poems dedicated to her memory.

Among the poems was one called Photos in a Drawer, which tells of discovering some of her old photographs and the family memories they held.

Mr. Kotzer, a wills lawyer with Fish and Associates of Thornhill and author of The Family Fight: Planning to Avoid It, a treatise on preventing inheritance squabbles, has since collaborated with composer/singer Lewis Manne to turn the poem into a song as a way of helping families avoid fighting over wills. But, he said, it is taking on a life of its own.

PHONES WENT CRAZY

The song was first aired in June by an ABC-affiliated radio station in San Francisco on which Mr. Kotzer, in his role as a wills lawyer, was appearing as a talk show guest.

"They played it twice during the show. Afterwards, the phones went crazy" said Mr. Kotzer. "I had over 600 calls and e-mails about the song. One person even likened it to Art Garfunkel's songs."

Since then, it has been heard on other American radio stations.

He said the response made him realize he could touch people with his lyrics. Now, as a new member of the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN), he has teamed with Mr. Manne, whose credits include the theme to the TV show Degrassi Junior High, to turn more of his poems into songs.

Photos in a Drawer and its companion piece, an up-tempo song called The Family Fight, are in the process of being produced as a two-song CD titled A Family United, A Family Divided, which Mr. Kotzer will sell for $10 each or throw in as a freebie to anyone buying his book.

"They are meant to go together," he said.

John Rothmann, the San Francisco radio host who gave Photos in a Drawer its first exposure, was so impressed with the song, he insisted on writing an endorsement for the CD cover.

"(Mr. Kotzer's) advice, coupled with his CD, brings healing to the soul," he wrote.

Photos in a Drawer began receiving airtime last week on Toronto-based FM station FOXY 88.5, the first Canadian station to play his songs.

"It's a dream for me to have this played on the radio," he said.

The second song on the CD tells of two brothers fighting over their mother's "rugs and rings".

"It's intended to show people how a lawyer sees the fight," he said. "It's not usually over millions of dollars, it's about things like rugs and rings."

It was after the response to the San Francisco show, however, that Mr. Kotzer realized he could use the songs to combat the family fighting he has become accustomed to seeing in his practice.

GET MESSAGE OUT

"If I can get the message out in these two songs, I've done my job," he said. "These songs might give people a moment of sober thought before setting a lawyer on other family members."

"Photos in a Drawer might lead siblings to pull out their photo albums and ask 'What am I fighting about?'" Mr. Kotzer added. "My mother's greatest assets were in her photo album, not in her safety deposit box."

He said baby boomer siblings are the ones now fighting over family wills.

"We have to do something to stop it," he said. "Photos is a softer way of saying you have to stay connected. I have to bring them back to being a family."

He said one person told him he was practising "emotional law, touching the heartstrings".

"But I'm still a wills lawyer," Mr. Kotzer emphasized. "I still give free reviews of wills."

Information on the CD and the book is available at www.familyfight.com or by calling 905-881-1500, ext. 19.

 

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