Devotees of international soccer, and I have come across quite a number of them in my Biglaw career (from foreign-born colleagues to more recent converts like myself), are currently enjoying one of the world’s foremost tournaments, the European Championship or the “Euros.” Because the tournament is played in Europe, the games have been on during lunchtime and the early-afternoon hours here on the East Coast, perfect for sneaking out to a local bar for a slightly longer than usual lunch break to watch. I would imagine that most Biglaw Euro watching is being done via Espn3.com, on the “second screen” that most IT departments insist on hooking up in order to enhance the lawyer’s “productivity.” Truth is that when it comes to work, the second screen is fantastic — but it is more fun when it acts as a substitute television.
Now, ESPN’s wall-to-wall coverage of this year’s Poland/Ukraine-based tournament has definitely raised the Euros’ profile in the USA — but for those unaware or uninterested in the proceedings, realize that each match draws as much interest and television viewership as the Super Bowl. And the level of play on display is absolutely top-notch, as each team is composed of hardened veterans of the top European leagues, those renowned for attracting the top soccer talent worldwide with the allure of riches and fame.
As an aside, knowing something about soccer, just like speaking a foreign language, is a great normalizer when dealing with clients and colleagues in overseas offices. Sports and business are intertwined, and as professional services providers in increasingly international businesses serving an increasingly global clientele, it behooves firms to ensure that both partners and associates have some familiarity with the world’s most popular game (in both amount of fans and corporate support).
In what way is soccer like Biglaw, and what lessons might it have for those of us who toil in law firms?