Instead of sending her kids to camp this summer, downtown L.A. attorney Nancy Smith sent herself to fiddle camp.

Smith, a partner at Nossaman LLP who specializes in transportation and infrastructure projects, spent five days in New York last month at a camp orchestrated by Mark O'Connor, a recording and performing star of the fiddle world.

"I was exposed to new things, I learned some new tunes and I had a great time," said Smith, 53. "I came back more relaxed than I have from any other vacation."

Smith started playing the violin as a child, but took an interest in fiddling after hearing a group of friends play bluegrass music at a 2001 New Year's Eve party. The term fiddle is a general term referring to string instruments, including the violin.

Since then, Smith has gone to four fiddle camps, and she even rode a fiddle train in Canada from Vancouver to Toronto. Eighty fiddlers were on board.

She said there aren't enough hours in the day to play as much as she needs to perfect her skills. So, what does Smith do to squeeze in some practice time?

"I will have my violin in the office and practice before a concert," she said. "But I try not to make too much noise."

Spouse LEEDs the Way

Elizabeth Watson only had a few weeks to study for a test this summer that, if she passed, would make her one of only 50 attorneys in California designated a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional by the United States Green Building Council.

And she couldn't have asked for a better study partner: her husband, attorney James Brock, who took the test five years ago and was one of the first to pass.

"I remember we'd be on the beach in Santa Monica and he'd be studying away," Watson recalled. "I didn't have that kind of good beach weather this year, sadly, but it was still so helpful and encouraging to have him across the dinner table helping me prepare."

Watson and Brock have been married 13 years and share a love for the environment from their home life, buying a Toyota Prius, to their areas of legal practice. She is a partner in Greenberg Glusker's real estate, and climate change and sustainability practices in Century City. He is president of Environmental Planning Associates Inc., a consulting firm in West Los Angeles.

Watson passed. Although she already advises clients on regulations and requirements related to green building, consulting with her is now worth one point toward LEED certification for a client.

"When most people hear of LEED-certified, they think of a building and not a couple," Watson said. "So I guess in some ways our household has a couple of points toward its own kind of LEED certification."

Staff reporters Alexa Hyland and Francisco Vara-Orta contributed to this column. Page 3 is compiled by Editor Charles Crumpley. He can be reached at

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