Addison Braendel, '92: Lawyerly and Literary

Addison Braendel

A stroll through Hyde Park’s venerable Powell’s bookstore turned into a mini-obsession—and ultimately a board game—for this Chicago corporate lawyer. Addison Braendel, ’92, picked up a book listing the first lines of some five thousand novels. Quizzing houseguests about who wrote this line or that, he realized it would make a great game and set about editing a long list of clues. In partnership with his wife, Catherine, that list is now It Was a Dark and Stormy Night: A Game of First Lines.

By day, Braendel is a partner at the Chicago office of Baker & McKenzie, where he oversees the firm’s private equity fund formation team. He joined Baker last year after more than twelve years at Mayer Brown. His practice is primarily corporate transactional, focusing on formation of private equity funds, typically with a real estate, infrastructure, or energy focus. During his career, Braendel has also developed expertise in regulatory matters, the Investment Advisers Act, the Investment Company Act, ERISA, tax, and REITs.

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night covers everything from novels to poetry, from mysteries to children’s books, from science fiction to books made into movies, and six other categories. Players identify the author or title of a book with only the book’s first line as a clue. It may seem daunting, but according to a Sun-Times reviewer, “We needn't have been so worried that the game would be too difficult for a group of mostly casual readers. It was a close match . . . I give the game my recommendation.”

“While this is definitely a game for adults, we made children's categories so our three kids could ‘pinch hit,’” says Braendel. “Don’t all geeky people want their kids to be geeky?”

“Addison brings an enormous amount of creativity to his practice which is, for anyone, at the heart of being a great lawyer,” says Baker Managing Partner Philip Suse. “The fact that he has interests beyond law has to be one of the things that feeds his ability to see new solutions to legal problems.”

Braendel has also devoted much energy over the years to Chicago’s Center for Disability and Elder Law (CDEL), a pro bono provider of legal services leveraging a network of more than six hundred volunteer attorneys, paralegals, and law and social work students. He currently serves as CDEL’s board president and in 2006 CDEL awarded him their Robert A. Michalak Visionary Award.

“At Chicago, the idea of law extended into many topics. The people, the debate, and intellectual challenge—it was a great fit for me,” says Braendel.

The challenge of creating a board game required Braendel to do his research until all hours of the night. Hearing that fact, one friend commented, “This is the saddest story I have ever heard.”

Now, who wrote that?

To order a copy of Braendel's game go to