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Cameo appearances: Law firm enlists celebs to boost staff morale

Ed Herman

Ed Herman, managing partner of Brown & Crouppen, is shown watching a Cameo video from actor John Cleese. Since the firm began working from home in March, it has used the website Cameo to hire celebrities to send personalized messages of encouragement to play at the firm’s weekly Zoom meetings. Photo submitted by Ed Herman.

Like many workplaces, Brown & Crouppen has turned to Zoom meetings to keep employees connected with each other and firm leadership while working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Less common, however, is the way the firm has begun wrapping up those meetings — with encouraging messages recorded by celebrities such as actors Jon Lovitz and Lena Headey, who played Cersei Lannister on the HBO series “Game of Thrones.”

With approximately 250 of the St. Louis-based firm’s employees working from home since the week of March 16, Managing Partner Ed Herman said the firm started that week to hold weekly Zoom meetings to help keep everyone connected. At the end of each meeting, firm employees see a new video message obtained through the website Cameo, which offers a wide range of actors, comedians, sports figures and others who can be hired to provide personalized messages.

Herman, who was familiar with Cameo, pitched the idea.

“I had used Cameo to do some birthday wishes for some of my friends, so I suggested maybe we should end the meeting with a Cameo,” he said. “It could be a surprise, just a nice way to end that meeting.”

St. Louis native Cedric the Entertainer was the first to provide a message to the firm on March 19. In his Cameo, he advised the firm’s employees to “be very careful and very aware during this weird time” — and to wash their hands.

“Take care of yourselves. We’ll get through this together,” he said. “St. Louis is resilient, that’s who we are.”

The video was an immediate success: “It got such a huge reaction,” Herman said.

Cedric the Entertainer has been followed by Lovitz; Headey; singer Carnie Wilson of the band Wilson Phillips; St. Louis Cardinals player and Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith; and actors Gary Busey, James Van Der Beek, Debra Messing and David Hasselhoff.

“Entertainers right now aren’t able to do their jobs, either, so a lot more people have made themselves available,” on the site, Herman said.

Herman said his favorite was Lovitz, who extolled the benefits of working from home, including not having to fight traffic and not having to dress up.

“I want to wish you all good luck because, you know, at least you all can still work. What am I going to do, tell jokes in a bathroom on Cameo?” Lovitz joked in his video.

The messages have provided some much-needed levity for employees.

“It’s a morale boost,” Herman said. “Everyone’s working really hard, and they’re doing the best they can to have some normalcy . . . something we can all have a laugh about together makes up a little bit for the fact that we’re not going to see each other on a daily basis.”

The firm is tight-knit, Herman said, and the videos provide an opportunity to foster that closeness while employees are isolating at home.

“It was just a way to extend that feeling of family,” he said.

Herman said his only problem now is who to pick going forward.

“Now I have to figure out each week who I am going to get,” he said.

Coronavirus crisis

This item is part of Missouri Lawyers Media's free coverage of how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the legal community.

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