Lisa Henderson-Newlin, The Levison Group
I’m not a golfer. I don’t like to be hot and I definitely don’t like to exercise. The thought of walking around in 100 degree heat while carrying a bag of metal rods on my back sounds like my idea of torture. (I think it might actually be considered torture in some third world countries.)
I realize my disdain for golf doesn’t jibe well with my chosen profession as a lawyer, but neither does my belief that “dressing up for work” means simply putting on make up and a pair of shoes when I come to work. I guess we all have different expectations for this job. But what I find most difficult to believe is that others don’t grasp that I don’t like golf. It’s completely foreign to most people when I tell them I’d prefer not to schmooze on a green in the sun with golf clubs in hand. However, if we could schmooze on a raft in the sun with margaritas in hand, that would be a different story. I have yet to have someone take me up on that offer. I wish they would. I’m looking a little pasty.
Why is golf so intertwined with the legal profession? Is it the monotony of the game? Is it because one can fudge the score when no one is looking? Or is it because it’s considered a sport yet one can consume beer while participating? My guess is the latter.
Since I’m not a golfer, yet still want (and need) to maintain my client relationships, I’ve been thinking of other activities lawyers should consider if they want to get away from the office, yet still interact with clients. I think I’ve come up with a few good options, or at least some options that include air conditioning and regular hydration.
A day at the spa would be a nice way to connect with clients while doing something enjoyable. I’m confident a lawyer and her client would feel much closer after sharing an afternoon together wearing only cotton robes and fluffy slippers. I can already feel the client connection getting stronger just thinking about it.
Perhaps a trip to the casino would be a great relationship builder. Nothing says “put all of your trust in me” quite like a lawyer hitting it hard at the penny slot machines and following it up with a splurge on the quarter slots. Come to think of it, going to the casino might be a great way to break it to your client that they lost their case, especially when they’re up $5,000 at the craps table.
Maybe a night at the movies would be a viable option for client development. In my single years, my dating relationships moved quickly when dinner and a movie were involved. Granted, those relationships also ended with awkward text messages and in one case, a restraining order (against him, not me, although your suspicion it was me wasn’t unreasonable).
A buffet might be the way to go. Who wouldn’t bond over an all you can eat buffet? I know I feel closer to someone after I’ve picked the leftovers off their plate and asked if they’re done with the pasta salad. Stronger ties have never been made than over soft serve ice cream and a toppings bar with several different types of sprinkles. I could also demonstrate my negotiating ability by offering my half rack of BBQ ribs in exchange for the last of the pot roast.
No matter what the activity, we should all be a little more open to stepping outside of the box when it comes to client activities (and in this case, “the box” is a golf cart). Not everyone enjoys chasing a one and a half inch ball several miles around a course after a few strolls through ponds and ivy only to end up at the starting point. If I wanted to be bored to death, I would just read my past columns.
Hopefully some of these other options for client schmoozing will take flight, (unlike my golf ball, which only bounces off the tee); either that, or I need to find different clientele who enjoy buffets and bingo. Until then, I will continue to suffer with golf, as will anyone who has the misfortune of being paired with me. One thing is for sure, if you ever see me out on the golf course, please bring me an iced beverage immediately, and then duck.
Lisa Henderson-Newlin is a member of the law firm McAnany Van Cleave and Phillips. Contact Under Analysis by email at email@example.com.
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