Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Float Like a Butterfly, Sting Like a ... Lawyer?

Over at Client Service for Law Firms, Mike Hellum is using the Rumble in the Jungle, the classic 1974 fight between George Foreman and Muhammed Ali in Zaire, as an example for the kind of persistence and stamina needed to follow a client service initiative through to successful completion. Hellum explains how Ali used his rope-a-dope strategy to win the epic contest and compares it to how you can win a client service initiative.

It's a clever analogy and one I'll use to remind myself to hang in there when things are going less than optimally, both in client service and in life generally. I've also added Mike's blog to my feeds aggregator so I can read what he has to say more often.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Lawyer-boxer-blogger is Now Blogging at JD Bliss

I'm happy to announce that I am now a guest author on the JD Bliss blog. JD Bliss has a simple, focused goal: "to help attorneys leverage their JD [Juris Doctor] degrees into satisfying careers, personal growth, and individual happiness."*

JD Bliss provides information about a wide variety of topics. Too numerous to list here, the various subjects focus on helping lawyers improve their work/life balance, create more satisfying careers for themselves, and grow as whole persons living rich, satisfying lives. The information on the blog also helps law firms to improve attorney retention and motivation.

My inaugural entry on the JD Bliss blog is about five established and experienced big city lawyers who, in the middle of their careers, left very large firms to join small firms or even start their own firm. Please read that blog post to see the success and happiness those attorneys found as they discovered that bigger does not always mean better in the practice of law.

* For more information about the mission of JD Bliss, see the blog's "About us" page.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Pledging the Fistic Fraternity: A Brief Boxing Story

Several years ago, I trained at Chicago’s storied Windy City Boxing Gym. (It has since closed due to some building code violations in the old warehouse where the gym owners had rented space.) It was in a fairly rough part of the city and was a classic boxing gym, with a rich past, like something out of a movie.

Aside from Todd Collins, my first coach at Windy City, no one there knew my name. All the guys just called me “Lawyer.” It seems everyone had a nickname–Mad Dog, Underdog, Crusher–and “Lawyer” was mine.

Although I was a “serious” amateur boxer who competed, I guess some of the guys there at first dismissed me as someone who was just trying the sport as a fitness regimen and was not going to work hard. I didn’t even perceive that until the first time I sparred at Windy City, but that experience let me know some of the men thought I was merely dabbling in the sweet science and not to be taken seriously.

In those days, I was training regularly with the rest of the amateurs in the late afternoons. The coach we had was a smart guy; he would not just “throw me in there” for sparring until he was convinced that I really had boxed before and knew what I was doing. Even so, after a week of training with the guys, our coach told me I was going to spar that day.

After putting on my foul protector, headgear, and gloves and inserting my mouthpiece, I climbed into the ring and began to move around a bit as I waited for my sparring partner to get suited up. I had sparred in that ring before (while training with my previous coach), so I felt comfortable there. As I did a little shadowboxing, I saw a few of the other boxers standing outside the ring talking quietly and chuckling. Two of them put their hands over their mouths and pointed to me and laughed. They expected me to get my ass handed to me and may even have been eager to see that happen.

Eventually, my sparring partner entered the ring. He was a Hispanic kid whose nickname was El Gallo ("Rooster"). I was 33 at the time and he was about ten years younger than I. The other fellow clearly felt as comfortable in that ring as I did. He was friendly enough, but I knew he’d be all business in the sparring. My assessment was accurate: El Gallo was all business in there, and so was I.

He and I mixed it up for three hard rounds before our coach said, “Good work, men,” and told another pair of boxers that they were to be next in the ring. Although El Gallo and I were pretty evenly matched, I felt good because if it had been a scored bout, I was pretty sure I’d have won every round. It was close, to be sure, but my partner had a habit of holding his right out a bit too far from his face and that made it fairly easy to score with my left hook. Taking advantage of his surprise, I was usually able to follow up the hook with a quick jab to the face, and once or twice even with a good right cross. It was good work, as boxers often call sparring, and we were both fairly tired at the end of it.

After shaking hands and congratulating one another on some good practice, El Gallo and I climbed out of the ring to let the next boxers have their turn. The same guys who had been laughing and pointing before the sparring came up to me. To my surprise, they were all enthusiastic and full of praise. “Great job, man!” said one of them, high-fiving me. Another added, “Yeah, you really looked good in there. Dude, you know what you’re doing. Wow!”

At first, I was a little taken aback by the comments. “Well, what the hell did you expect?” I said to myself. My initial resentment didn’t last long; it was melted by the enthusiastic smiles of the men who clearly considered me a new friend. The price for entry into their brotherhood was clearly to do well in a sparring session, or at least to have the courage to get into the ring and trade some punches.

Their congratulations were sincere. Although they had been skeptical, the guys who had expected to see a young lawyer get his ass kicked by a “real” boxer were happily surprised to see the lawyer hold his own and even do a decent job of pressuring his sparring partner during a tough three rounds.

After that day, I was treated differently. I could sense the changed attitude those men had toward me. In a place where what one does for a living counts for little, if anything, the guys enthusiastically accepted me as one of their own. Everyone still called me “Lawyer” for the duration of my stay at Windy City, but that had become an affectionate nickname rather than a skeptical, even somewhat derisive moniker. I had passed my initiation into the fraternity of fisticuffs. Yes, I was still a lawyer, but far more importantly, in the eyes of my gym mates, I was a boxer. A real boxer. Just like them.

Good Luck to Everyone Taking the Bar Exam

On Wednesday, July 25, 2007 (and the day before and after, depending on the state), candidates for admission to the bars of the various United States are taking the bar exam. I join with David Lat at Above the Law in wishing good luck to all the bar exam takers. Do well, then take some well-deserved time off.

It has been 15 years since I sat for the Illinois bar exam. I still sometimes have nightmares about it. The bad dreams are almost always variations on a simple, yet terrifying, theme. Two hours into a three-hour segment of the exam, I am racing desperately to get to the place where the exam is being held. No matter what the other circumstances of the dream are, I never arrive; I just keep running. That is, of course, until I wake up in a state of panic and cold sweat, only to realize--quite happily, I might add--that I am sitting up safely on my bed and I already have my law license. :-)

Monday, July 23, 2007

Sports Psychology at About.com

As I give more attention to the mental game, I continue to seek new resources to help me use my mind more effectively in sport. Here's a page I found this weekend that contains a number of sports psychology pages that look like they will be useful.


Weekend Training

Pretty basic stuff this weekend. Did shadowboxing and roadwork for 18 minutes on Saturday and 33 minutes on Sunday. Also did two 10-minute visualization sessions (more about this later).

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Looking at New Gyms for Training

As I have written before, my athletic club is closing down and our boxing club is going to need a new home, at least temporarily, but probably permanently.

Meanwhile, Nerd of Steel has recently published some really good entries on his blog about finding and evaluating a boxing gym, so the timing is great for me: I can read his reminders and be able to use them right away. Here are a few links to these topics on his site:
While I have listed a few links above to share the blog entries that have been particularly helpful to me during this transitional time, Nerdcore Boxing is a fine blog as a whole, and I hope you'll visit all of the site.

Updated at 1:07 p.m.: I forgot to mention earlier that my friend Russell Newquist mentioned about a month ago that he, too, is looking for a new training facility. He has two blog entries on his search.



Although the specific things he is talking about are somewhat different than what I'm encountering in my search for a new gym, there are some similarities. Not the least of those similarities is that sense of being unsettled and not getting as much exercise as I normally would. I am hoping to have my search concluded and be settled in a new gym within a couple of weeks. I would be very happy about that. If for some reason that doesn't happen, I will join a gym that is pretty close to where I live, at least temporarily, until Bernard and the rest of our boxers figure out what they want to do.

It's reassuring to know that I am certainly not the only one who is making this type of transition. I hope Russell's quest ends soon and he finds a place where he'll be happy!

Quick Training Recap

Roadwork and shadowboxing on the following days:
  • July 17: 18 minutes
  • July 18: 25 minutes
  • July 19: 32 minutes
  • July 20: day off

I will be happy when my new gym arrangement gets settled. It's a little frustrating to be in transaction now, but I know it's a temporary situation. I spoke with Bernard, our coach, yesterday. He is also investigating another possible location for our training: a new gym at 16th and Michigan. Hopefully, we will have a new training location soon.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Update on the Pro Game

Over at Bad Left Hook, Scott Christ shares his thoughts about the state of professional boxing. With his usual mix of knowledge of the sport, skilled writing, and sharp wit, Scott presents his views about the current state of boxing and some upcoming fights.

If you haven't yet visited Bad Left Hook, I recommend it. The guys who blog there are knowledgeable and eloquent. You don't have a lot of hype, it's all substance. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Just Let Me Take this One Call...

Mobile phones really are everywhere these days, aren't they? I sent this to my friend Chris, who lives in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. I will be visiting him soon. Chris and I have agreed to put the gloves on for a friendly match while I am there. In my e-mail to him, I assured Chris that this picture would not give an accurate depiction of our bout.

For one thing, I would not be so rude; I would definitely use a hands-free unit! :-P

For another, I can't imagine that Chris would let me get away with a stunt like that! The old rule, "protect yourself at all times," comes to mind! Chris is a good guy, but I doubt he'd let me take a break to yak on the phone. (Would he have to go to a neutral corner while I was talking?) More likely, I'd be looking at the lights pretty darned quickly, so I will let voice mail answer any mobile calls that I might receive during this epic bout!

(Clipart Copyright © 2007 Jupiterimages Corporation. All rights reserved. Used by subscription license.)