You Oughtta Know

Wade Woodard: Cycling and law have more in common than you think

WADE WOODARD, partner, Andersen Banducci PLLCOctober 1, 2013 

Wade Woodard.JPG

Wade Woodard

This year my law firm, Andersen Banducci PLLC, stepped in to be the title sponsor of the 27th annual Twilight Criterium. We were happy to do our part to ensure the event could continue as a Boise summer tradition.

Since the announcement of the sponsorship, I've been asked a few times if there is any relationship between cycling and the law. For me, as a purely recreational cyclist, cycling is my escape from the law. I usually try not to think about work while I'm on a bike, although once in a while I do have an epiphany concerning a case while riding.

But the more I think about it, the more I realize the sport of cycling - especially racing - has many similarities to the practice of law.

For example, in racing and in a trial, there's only one winner. Trial attorneys, like professional cyclists, are wholly focused on winning. Any attorney or cyclist will tell you the key to winning is preparation. Sun Tzu, the ancient Chinese general and philosopher, taught that a battle is won before it's ever fought.

In my experience, the best-prepared attorney usually obtains the best outcome for the client. For this reason, good trial attorneys spend countless hours preparing so that by the time they reach trial they know all the evidence and what every witness will say, and have a retort for any claim the opposing attorney might make.

Likewise, winning cyclists spend countless hours training, learning the course, and understanding their opponents so they have a response for every move the competition may make.

At the same time, both successful trial attorneys and cyclists rely heavily on a team of committed professionals. My firm's practice is focused on complex civil trials in commercial cases. We staff most trials with two or more attorneys and a paralegal in the courtroom. Back in the office, we have additional attorneys who work on the motion practice during the trial, as well as legal assistants who keep everything running smoothly.

Interestingly, most people who aren't familiar with road racing are surprised to learn it is a team sport. One member of the team serves as the leader, and the others (called "domestiques") do everything they can to help the leader win.

Overall, the domestiques' main job is to help conserve the leader's energy by forming a peloton around him or her to cut wind drag. Cycling experts say "drafting" like this can save between 20 percent and 40 percent of the leader's energy in a long event. The domestiques also perform many other tasks designed to help the team leader win.

Another part of the cyclists' team is a group of mechanics who spend hours preparing the racers' bikes for the event. Even with performance-enhancing drugs, Lance Armstrong could not have won the Tour de France without the support of his team.

So yes, there is a lot an attorney can learn from a cyclist, and vice versa. I feel lucky to be able to have a foot in each world. That said, it's a good thing I chose the law as a profession, because the likelihood of me making any money racing bicycles is slim to none.

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wlw@andersenbanducci.com

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