Friday, February 12, 2016
Even though I have never participated in a single Yoga class, I enjoyed my co-editor Joan Heminway’s Yoga Analogy Post from a couple weeks ago. Her post inspired this analogy post about running and the law.
While I am not the most consistent runner among the BLPB editors---that title goes to Josh Fershee---I have been running 3+ times a week consistently for the last 6 months or so, following a few very inconsistent years.
Below the break, I discuss some parallels between running (particular long-distance running) and the practice of law. Due to these parallels, as a hiring partner, I believe I would look favorably on an applicant who was a distance runner.
Also about distance running, is anyone else really excited about watching the Olympic Trials for the Marathon on NBC tomorrow? Not a great spectator sport, to be sure, but I love that so many people with normal jobs are running. Nashville-area elementary school teacher Scott Wietecha qualified for the Trials (though he has chosen not to run, due, at least in part, the some health issues). Scott has details and predictions here; after reading his long post, I can quickly see that he is even much more excited about watching the race than I am.------------------
Community. It is very difficult to train for a long race alone. There are at least a half-dozen running groups relatively close to my home in Nashville. Runners quickly learn to cheer for their group members and are some of the most encouraging people I have met. Like in law practice, the effort and strain forges strong community among the members.
Competition. Law is often competitive. Even in a transactional practice, which is often less adversarial than litigation, you are competing with the other side for the best terms. If you are overly passive, you may get walked on in a serious law practice. Runners compete—against the other runners and against the clock. Of course, competition has its downside and a myopic focus on winning without consideration for rules and ethics can lead to things like doping in running or misrepresentation in law.
Discipline/Grit. Every consistent runner I know is disciplined, not just in running, but also in (at least most of) the rest of their lives. You can’t properly train for a half-marathon or marathon in a week or even a month. It takes months, and sometimes years, to develop the necessary fitness. It takes waking up early or going to bed late; you have to fight through sickness, injury, and harsh weather. Running 10 miles at 5am is not really all that different than making the push to a deal closing without regard for sleep.
Jargon. Both running and law are areas where heavy use of jargon is common – and both groups seem to embrace the jargon quickly. Just like giddy 1Ls name their trivia teams things like res ipsa loquitur (not that I know anyone who did that); runners have a tendency to geek out using terms like VO2 Max, Fartlek, Iliotibial Band Syndrome, Negative Splits, Plantar Fasciitis, Pronation, PR/PB, Supination, and “The Wall.” Jargon, however, also has a useful purpose, as it allows members in both groups to communicate more efficiently. I imagine all areas have their jargon, but runners and lawyers seem especially fond of it.
Planning. You don’t train for something as daunting as a half or full marathon, even if you are relatively slow like me, without serious planning. A typical training plan spans three to four months and varies between speed work, tempo runs, and slower and longer runs. Likewise, law requires serious planning --- both transactional and litigation work requires organization and forecasting. While you need to be flexible, and willing to amend the plan, having a plan is essential in both law and running.