Proud to Be a Lawyer


When you first meet Andy Weisbecker, you know within a couple of minutes that he is the kind of guy you would want to coach your kid’s soccer team. Fortunately, for about 17 sets of parents in Seattle, Andy is doing just that.

For the past eight years, Andy has left an office full of yapping files, urgent phone messages, anxious clients, and interrogatories demanding answers by Monday, because 17 kids will be standing by themselves at Lower Woodland Park Field if he doesn’t show up at exactly 5:00 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday.

Now, here are the duties of a coach like Andy at soccer practice:

  1. Set up the nets.
  2. Remember to bring the balls.
  3. Remember to bring goalie gloves and goalie gear.
  4. Bring a ball pump.
  5. Build self-esteem.
  6. Have fun.
  7. Vainly attempt to keep the attention of a group of 15-year-olds for one hour.
  8. Teach the game of soccer.
  9. Hone specific soccer skills.

These responsibilities, of course, do not take into account his coaching duties on Saturday:

  1. Set up the nets.
  2. Remember to bring the balls.
  3. Remember to bring goalie gloves and goalie gear.
  4. Bring a ball pump.
  5. Try to win the game.
  6. Tell the kids it’s okay to lose the game.
  7. Tell the kids it’s okay to lose several games in a row.
  8. Worry just a little bit about parents who are meticulously tracking every second their child plays in the game.
  9. Don’t forget that Carl’s grandparents from Omaha are coming to the one game they’ll get to see Carl play this season, so he had better get some extra time in the game at center forward even though Carl couldn’t beat his grandmother in a one-on-one drill, and even though you’re playing your cross-town rivals who have beaten you three times in a row. (This last duty is courtesy of your wife who gives you these instructions as you leave for the game.)

So what kind of attorney voluntarily puts himself into a position like this when it is just as easy to convince himself that he deserves a relaxing Saturday, and anyway, he’s no coach, he’s never played the game, and the demands of a law practice make it impossible to guarantee that he can be at a soccer field by 5:00 p.m. two nights a week, not to mention it’s cold and wet in November? Who needs the aggravation?! Well, plenty of attorneys do — more than you’d imagine. Guys like Andy Weisbecker.

I have had the good fortune to work on a couple of cases with Andy. In the last case, I felt we had a difficult client to deal with, but Andy was magic. The client agreed with anything he said, while she constantly argued with me. A first-class people person, Andy has been practicing law for 20 years. The child of an American father and an Italian mother, he spoke English to his dad and Italian to his mother while growing up in Italy. The first time he came to America, it was to go to college in Seattle.

Andy works with Marler Clark. He’s 48 years old and should be smart enough by now to know that this soccer coaching stuff is a pain in the neck and hinders your chances of getting an "A" rating from Martindale-Hubbell. Yet, for eight years he has spent countless Saturday mornings stringing up the goal nets while standing on a bucket, all the while dodging errant balls that could very well cause some kind of head injury.

As we both have coached soccer for a number of years, we have had long discussions on the travails of trying to coach while working in a profession where there is never enough time. So the other day, I asked Andy why he coaches. He coaches because he loves his son Lucas who plays on the team (and because he’s a great father). He has also found other benefits as he leads his Firebirds into the league championship this year. His answers to my question will give you some insight into the kind of guy he is.

"Coaching makes me a better person and a better attorney. To be a good coach you have to listen, which is a very crucial trait in our profession. Kids know if you are really listening to them rather than listening in a distracted manner, and they respond to that individual attention.

"Clients also appreciate attorneys who really listen to what their concerns and needs are. Through my work with the soccer team, I feel my clients get a better attorney. Not only do I get better results in my cases, but my clients feel better about me when the case is over.

"I also feel that I am doing my little bit to blast away at some of the public’s myths and preconceptions about attorneys. I hope I am showing the kids and their parents that attorneys are not the remote, aloof, argumentative, overbearing pains that the media portrays us to be. Hopefully, the people I deal with through soccer will feel a little less intimidated about the whole justice system.

"Of course, coaching is also a heck of a lot of fun."

Our profession demands lots of time, which conflicts with the scheduled disruptions implicit in coaching. I’m amazed and proud that attorneys like Andy Weisbecker, and countless others of us, give up our time to coach. Andy tells us a lot about the kinds of people who make up the profession of law.

So all of you attorneys in your early 30s with young kids about to enter the realm of organized sports — fight the pressure, ditch the office, and get out there with the kids. Jam the time into your schedule so you can’t give in to the 100 good reasons you should be at the office. You will be a better attorney, father or mother; make more money; add balance to your life; breathe fresh outdoor air in the afternoon; and make a positive contribution to a lot of young lives. It will seem like a gigantic burden at first, but trust us, years from now you will look back and smile.