(A Chapter Excerpt from Making Rain Where the Sun Shines — Lawyers are Supposed to be Golfers — Paying My Dues as a Country Lawyer)
The stereotypical lawyer is supposed to spend a good share of time on the links, golfing with colleagues, clients, friends and associates, and lounging in the clubhouse, socializing over cold drinks, and making things happen. I knew that. The senior partners in our firm, Chance Armstrong and Terry Spencer were both golfers. In fact, Terry Spencer was a real good golfer, having dominated the college golf team before law school.
In Cedar City, where I had gone to college, worked as a law clerk for a year before law school, and gotten to know Armstrong and Spencer, some of the other local attorneys, including the DA had a regular tee time, together, every Wednesday afternoon during golfing weather. They called it “depositions,” and carefully instructed their secretaries to tell anyone who asked for them or inquired as to their whereabouts, that they were in depositions.
Frankly, I’d always had a hard time taking golf very seriously. After years of weightlifting, and serious, full-contact sports like wrestling and college football, golf seemed just a little too sedate for me. Coming from a family of chronic workaholics, I had also been thoroughly instilled with the notion that golf is non-productive; simply a leisure-time luxury that just doesn’t fit into the lives of productive, hard-working people.
But I’m a lawyer now. Lawyers are supposed to be able to have the luxury of at least a little bit of leisure time, and use it to do something a little more civilized than open-field tackles and body slams — besides, that’s where all the client connections and business relationships are supposed to be made and developed, and all the deals are greased.
Most of my friends in law school had been convinced that a good golf game was the answer — just the ticket to a successful law practice. Even Dean Rhodes, the ultimate bookworm, had been a golfer. While working both summers of law school as a summer associate law clerk at Clayton, Billings & Templeton, a Salt Lake City law firm, with sixty some-odd lawyers, amid all the other wining, dining and recruitment-oriented fanfare, we spent at least our fair share of time playing golf. Early morning tee-times, afternoons, evenings, Saturdays; — all the partners wanted at least one round of golf with each of the clerks, who were considered potential future associates.
I always felt a little guilty for essentially getting paid to play, but it all seemed to be part of the game, and virtually all the lawyers there, and particularly the more affluent senior partners, seemed to be avid golfers, and members of one or another ritzy country club around the Salt Lake Valley.
To prime ourselves for such outings, Tom Fleishman, my law school buddy and fellow law clerk, and I, would go out and hit buckets of balls every chance we got, so that hopefully we could make the grade. As distorted as the whole game seemed to be at times, sometimes we felt like we had to work harder at our golf game than we did at our law clerk work.
But all that changed when, after graduating from law school and taking the bar exam, I moved to Kanab, a small town on the Utah/Arizona border, to open and man a branch office for the Cedar City law firm of Armstrong & Spencer, and begin my long-awaited legal career.
Essentially right from the outset I started to get an inkling that, contrary to my previous experience, indoctrination and future visions, golf probably wasn’t going to end up being one of my top priorities. In addition to simply getting real busy, real fast, along with being perpetually plagued with those deep-rooted notions of hard-working productivity, I just never quite seemed to develop the right golfing connections — and it was probably a good thing because none of the golfers around Kanab ever seemed to need an attorney.
So for me, golf just didn’t quite seem to fit. It seemed like there was always something more pressing, more important to do. So, I gravitated in other directions.
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