Law Practice: Two First-Year Points of Practice

Two things I’ve learned the hard way during my first year practicing as a lawyer:

  • The Michigan Court Rules are extremely handy and offer clear directions in most situations. It’s good to read them thoroughly, and then revisit them for each specific matter.
  • Reading on paper is easier and “better” than any digital replacement for paper. This statement might surprise a few of my co-workers, but as I head into my second year, I’m trying to better strike a balance between using paper and striving to be paperless. The idea of going paperless is nice, but there has to be universal access to all files when out of the office for it to really be a benefit. I’m finding it easier to simply plan for work out of the office and take specifically what I need. Working out of the office is tricky because I usually forget exactly what I need to really get down to work. This is where I’d like to have greater virtual access, but that requires diligently scanning everything and then ensuring it’s on the server and in the right place. Baby steps!

High School Golf Practice

Yesterday was sixty-five degrees, calm, and sunny so I went to the golf range to practice. I bought my seven dollar large bucket of balls, laced up my golf shoes, and started hitting easy sand wedges to the red flag on the right of the range about 85 yards away. I was trying to keep the trajectory of my shots down so I could control my distance better. About thirty minutes into my session high school golfers began setting up shop on the range. Then what looked to be the junior varsity team hopefuls came over. These kids didn’t look a day over pre-adolescence, but they talked a big game. They talked it loudly, as if they were addressing a elderly foreigner. Naturally, they started their warm-up by trying to smash drivers to the edge of the woods. I felt compelled to get my driver out and hit the ball well into the woods. I did, easily. Having satisfied my ego, I returned to hitting easy eight irons to the yellow flag 160 yards away. But, the range was filling up too fast for all of us to hit. These kids were moving in on my nice patch of grass. A runt of a boy directly in front of me swung a driver equal to his own height. A lanky youngster was joyously topping, slicing and shanking balls behind me. I feared for my life. Instead of visualizing the shot I wanted to hit, I began imagining what it would feel like when cold steel met my skull. Not good. It was like I was standing it the middle of a chinook helicopter. Clubs were spinning, balls were flying. The kid in front of me actually lost his grip and his club flew over my head. The kid said woops then blindly walked in front of me. I decided it was best for me to leave at that point, so I hit my last ball, tucked in my clubs and shook my head. This was chaos – unlike any golf practice I had ever participated in, but it still made me miss high school golf.

Range Notes: Practicing in the Wind

The range I use only has one end, which means sometimes I have to hit into a headwind. This is undesirable because it exaggerates the spin on the ball and it can upset your swing tempo.

If I was practicing on a range that was two ended, I would simply go to the far end so that I was hitting downwind. That wasn’t an option today, so I chose to dedicate most of my range time to hitting controlled half-swing draw shots, a.k.a. punch shots.

I had two goals in mind while practicing:

1. Keep a smooth tempo, which will preserve my full swing for a calm day.
2. Take half swings to keep the ball low and in control.

There is a tendency to swing hard when the wind blows. This only exaggerates the effect of the wind on the ball. Swinging hard translates into more spin, which leads to more ball movement. What would be a slight fade or draw on a calm day turns into a slice or hook on a windy day if you swing hard. You also risk up-shooting into the wind and coming up well short of your target.

Instead, practice making half-swings to control your ball flight. A draw will penetrate the wind best and offer the most control. If you are able to take easy half-swings I think you’ll be surprised at how much distance you attain with minimal effort.

(Even on calm days this half-swing can be a valuable tool to have to escape from the tree trouble or to run the ball to a back hole location.)