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Kaplan College Paralegal Studies

Successful Career Strategies, Inc.

June 2005

Lawyers Compete On the Court

For some reason, lawyers take their sports very seriously. Throughout the year and around the country, law firms field teams to compete against other firms in the Lawyer Leagues.

While certainly not as physically skilled as professional athletes, attorneys do provide tremendous sports entertainment. One can see things in the Lawyer Leagues that can't be witnessed at any other level of athletic competition.

Have you ever seen a base runner barrel into and knock down the first baseman after hitting a routine ground ball? Ever watch a basketball game in which the final score is so low that it could be confused with a soccer match? How about seeing three or four basketball players simultaneously commit a foul against the same player from the other team? If not, you haven't been to a Lawyer League game.

Fouls are so common in basketball that some Lawyer Leagues have suspended the rule regarding players fouling out of games. Other Lawyer Leagues allow teams to continue playing with less than five people when members of the team have fouled out and there are no more substitute players. Interestingly, Lawyer League teams forced to play with fewer than five players often perform better than they did with a full lineup.

Although there may be an occasional skilled player who comes along, most lawyers play ball like most first-year lawyers practice law -- they try really hard even when they don't know what they're doing. The starting lineup for a typical law firm basketball team looks something like this:

Point Guard: The hard charging associate.

Skills: Talking trash, complaining to the referees and starting fights. Leads the League in technical fouls.

Role on Team: As team captain, his role is to make sure at least five people break away from the office and show up for each game.

Favorite Player: Shaquille O'Neal.

Shooting Guard: The lone partner.

Skills: Being overweight, having bad knees and calling time outs.

Role on Team: The partner's status at The Firm transcends his lack of athletic ability. The other players pass him the ball and encourage him to shoot. Teammates then tell everyone back at the office how the partner carried the team with that one shot [out of thirty attempts] he made.

Favorite Player: Bob Cousey.

Center: The guy from the mailroom.

Skills: As a former high school All-American and because he's only twenty years old, he's a ringer in the Lawyer League.

Role on Team: The subject of a class action law suit brought by losing teams who suspect he isn't really a lawyer and thus ineligible for the Lawyer League.

Favorite Player: Karl "The Mailman" Malone.

Power Forward: The female litigator.

Skills: Clearly the best lawyer on the team, her forte is offensive rebounding, the low-bridge foul and the alley-oop pass to the mail guy for the slam-dunk.

Role on Team: Proving a point to The Firm's sexist male attorneys who neglected to ask her to play on the team.

Favorite Player: Ron Artest

Small Forward: The tax attorney.

Skills: Specialist in international tax shelters.

Role on Team: Being the fifth person to show up for the game and thus keep the team from losing by default.

Favorite Player: Kristi Yamaguchi

While such a team may appear to be wanting in key [if not all] areas, attorney athletes can feel confident that other Lawyer League teams will be just as pathetic.

The most entertaining aspect of the Lawyer Leagues is that, even when you get them out of the office and put them on a softball diamond or basketball court, lawyers will still be lawyers. Most Lawyer League games inevitably deteriorate into shoving matches, name-calling, long arguments and threats.

Much of what isn't settled on the courts of the Lawyer Leagues is settled in court. In the past, individual lawyers, law firms, referees and the leagues themselves have all been sued over events occurring on the courts and fields of the Lawyer Leagues. Come to think of it, the Lawyer Leagues aren't so different from professional sports; maybe it would be a good thing if these players did go on strike.

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