So you want to be a criminal lawyer...

Criminal Clients Don't Play Golf

To whoever said that “golf is a good walk spoiled” – I say amen brother!

Before you read this post and think I am crazy, you have to understand that I am Jewish and Jews get irrational annoyances out of all proportion to the general population. Larry David made a whole show about them. We even have a perfect Jewish word to describe this phenomenon – a mishegas.

The reason why Larry David’s humour works so well is because everyone has experienced and actually recognizes the things that annoy him. The vast majority of the population just ignore these annoyances and don’t think about them. But Larry David does think about these annoyances to the point that he can make an entire hour-long show about them and his reactions to the little annoyances he experiences are out of all proportion to the annoyance itself and are hilarious.

When it comes to the “sport” of golf, I have a mishegas. It started because of my lifelong love of sports and my strong sense of pattern recognition that told me that the golfers did not belong in the same category or on the same sports shows as the sprinters, boxers, hockey players and basketball players that I loved to watch growing up. I felt a sense of injustice that the golfers were being lauded and paid in the same way as real athletes and a sense of exasperation that other people did not seem to recognize this the way that I did.

What I didn’t realize when I was a kid was that my annoyance with golf would hit me in different phases. The next phase came when I realized that the people who play golf accord it a special status and significance that no one else accords to any other faux-sport type game. I assume that there are many people that like and play pool, bowling, darts, curling, ping pong, shuffleboard and many other games that do not require any kind of special athletic ability, but they are content to mostly enjoy the game they play and keep it to themselves. The people that play golf are not like this. They insist on talking about it, how much they play it and how much they enjoy it when they play it. They do things like change their profile pictures on Facebook to pictures of them playing golf and Tweet about how they are on the golf course. If you ask them a simple question that is more like a standard greeting like “How are you?” they say things like “Oh I’m just great! I played two rounds of golf this weekend, what more could I possibly ask for?” It is a subject that cannot be avoided even if you do your best to avoid it.

The next phase of my golf mishegas occurred and came to a head when I articled on Bay Street. The first thing that happened was a female colleague had mentioned to me that she was taking golf lessons and suggested that I do the same. I am sure that she was trying to be helpful but this interaction literally caused me to feel a lump in my throat. Should I try to overcome this mishegas and just suck it up and take golf lessons [impossible]? What would I do if I were actually confronted with this problem?

I did not have to wait long for the answer to the latter question. One of the articling student events that we were supposed to attend was a golf day. At first I thought I might attend, but then the more I thought about it, I decided that there was no way on Earth that I was going to attend this event. I brooded about it (like Larry David) and thought that the people who invited me to the golf day could not simply be intending that I should partake in an activity that they enjoy and that I could potentially enjoy – that would be far too simple an explanation. The people who invited me were insisting on demonstrating their faux-athletic prowess and forcing me to witness and acknowledge it.

They were also forcing me to witness and internalize their mastery of an activity that is typically reserved for the financial elite.

Having deduced their ulterior motives and ascribed a number of negative characteristics to the people that invited me to golf day, I refused to participate in this orgy of deception and showiness.

I remember the golf day very well because everyone came to the office that day wearing hideous pants. I made up some lame excuse for a reason I could not go that I am almost certain was not believed, but it didn’t really matter at that point. I had left my hideous pants at home and it was apparent to everyone that I was not about to hit the links in my suit.

There are two serious points in this that I wish to make. It is very grating to have to pretend you are someone you are not or pretend to like activities that you don’t. And more importantly for law students, it is very unlikely that outsider thinking is going to benefit you while working at a corporate law firm. When I worked at a corporate law firm I recognized my outsider thinking as a disadvantage, but my outsider thinking has been a great benefit to me since the moment I started practicing criminal law because it allows me to see defences and avenues for examination in a case that other people do not see. In addition to my outsider thinking being an advantage, I have not been bothered once to play golf since I started practicing criminal law. Thank goodness that criminal clients don’t play golf.


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