"It's probably safe to assume that not long after golf was invented, a group of attorneys high-tailed it to the nearest course to combine business with pleasure.
But with so many marketing, networking and business development tools available these days, has that scenario become nothing more than a dated stereotype?
Fortunately for lawyers who love golf, the answer is “no.” In fact, says national legal marketing pro Margaret Grisdela, golf is a great way to build camaraderie and develop relationships with colleagues and potential clients, particularly in a business world filled with impersonal emails and texts.
“Deals do get done on the golf course, but even if they don't, the game creates a warmer relationship that sets the stage for future opportunities,” Grisdela writes. “Every legal marketing budget should include some greens fees and fun.”
Dylan Cernitz and Kelly Evans, both associates at Portland-based Gevurtz Menashe Larson & Howe and co-chairs of the Multnomah Bar Association's Golf Committee, agree.
“It’s much more intimate when you’re golfing with three or four other people over five hours instead of spending just a few minutes with them,” Cernitz says. “You get to know them a little better than you would in other cases.”
Evans acknowledges that golf takes up a significant chunk of time that could be spent on billable hours, and that having coffee is probably a more time-efficient means of face time. But golf’s value as a marketing tool is appreciated by lawyers across generational lines.
“When we put in a request to go play in a golf tournament, the firm is very supportive, as are most other firms,” Evans says.
Cernitz and Evans offer some tips for those new to the game. First off, make sure the intended guests actually like to play golf. As Evans notes, “it can be a very long, awkward event if the circumstances aren’t right.”
Cernitz reminds players to remember that they are the face of their firm. In other words, play by the rules, be a good sport, avoid alcohol and, in general, keep your professional composure – no matter how much the ball won’t cooperate."
Briefly Legal, Daily Journal of Commerce, July 14th, 2011