Those who know me know that I am not really into sports. Even though I am 6’9’’, I was never really good at basketball (although every coach I ever had tried their best make me their project!). However, March Madness is upon us, and pretty much everyone gets in on the action when it is March Madness season. Many lawyers and law firms also participate in March Madness, and this can be a fun time for attorneys and staff to interact with one another in a nonlegal way. More law firms should embrace the March Madness season since this can improve morale around an office and present a fun distraction to the monotony that pervades many law firms.
Numerous law firms across the country have March Madness pools in which attorneys and staff fill out brackets and compete to see who can most accurately predict the results of the games. Of course, everyone should try to ensure that said March Madness pools are operated legally (as an attorney, I would be remiss if I did not mention this!). In addition, such pools should be open to everyone at firms and not just a select group. I have been at firms at which pools were either open to attorneys or staff and not both, and this is not good for the team mentality that should be present at law firms. However, with a few considerations in mind, law firm March Madness pools can be a fun activity for attorneys and staff.
The first time I ever became involved in a law firm March Madness pool was when I was a first-year Biglaw associate. At that shop, all of the first-years had to manage the pool, which was kind of a huge undertaking. Even though the March Madness pool was run through one of those online platforms, some of the attorneys and staff handwrote their picks on physical brackets.
As a result, my colleagues and myself needed to input all of the handwritten brackets into the online system to ensure all of the scores were properly calculated. This was no easy task since some of the handwriting was really bad and no one wanted to input the wrong pick and have a partner angry at them for inadvertently making them lose the March Madness pool. In addition, some of the brackets only had a first name on them so we had to investigate who had submitted the bracket to us to be inputted, and this was a pretty good way to learn more about people at the firm. Also, the first-years had to be relatively well informed about basketball to answer questions from attorneys and staff about who was facing who in the tournament.
Over the years, attorneys and staff at firms at which I worked got into the March Madness spirit in ways beyond just participating in pools. A few of the March Madness games took place during ordinary business hours, and sometimes, attorneys and staff would be at firms later in the evenings when March Madness games were playing on TV. On a few occasions, employees at firms stopped what they were doing and everyone watched the March Madness games, off the clock of course. This was a fun experience for people in the office since it was pretty rare for individuals at that firm to get together socially, and watching March Madness games was the closest thing that many people in the office got to social interaction with one another.
Another fun aspect of March Madness was people at law firms supporting the colleges and law schools they attended who were in the March Madness tournament. Many lawyers have two alma maters, one for undergraduate and another for law school. My college did not have the best athletic program, and one testament to this fact was that I was a varsity athlete at my college! However, my law school alma mater (Georgetown) made the March Madness tournament a handful of times while I was working at various law firms, and it was fun to have a rooting interest in a team around the office.
There was an attorney I worked with who went to Villanova, and his team also made the tournament. I kept insisting that this attorney went to Villa”nofun” in order to convey the best trash talk I could around the office. Other attorneys with whom I worked represented their alma maters at work by wearing uniforms and other swag from their schools, and it was fun to see attorneys and staff expressing themselves in a more personal way.
In any event, from my own experiences, lawyers and law firms should embrace March Madness. Not only do March Madness festivities allow attorneys and staff to bond socially, but they also improve morale around an office.
Jordan Rothman is a partner of The Rothman Law Firm, a full-service New York and New Jersey law firm. He is also the founder of Student Debt Diaries, a website discussing how he paid off his student loans. You can reach Jordan through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.