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By: Rob Schwarz, Jr.

Greetings, TPS Nation! Rob is here to share an entertaining post regarding the relatable parallels between research and fantasy football! I must admit, whenever I see my husband perched on the couch doing anything semi-related to “fantasty football,” I may feel a wee bit inclined to pop off random comments such as, “I’m really working hard this year to finally win that ‘fantasy following’ on my blog — you know, the one with real people.” Or “I’m working so hard to draft contributing writers for my fantasy blogging team.” Does he find these comments amusing? Probably not so much. Yet, it’s still so enjoyable.

Here’s Rob…

As 4:00 p.m. rolled around on Sunday, I started to gather all of the research I had done over the last three weeks. I set up my laptop and logged into my user account. I laid out my 12 page draft board. I opened up a few of my magazines to some expert opinions. Then I waited. I knew I was prepared. I knew I would have a competitive team after the draft was all said and done. Three. Two. One. The draft begins.

As I am going through the two plus hour selection process, my Brother-in-law asks me why I waste my time with such nonsense. I explain to him how it has made me a better sports fan. I explain how I feel like I am a part of the games and not just a spectator. He laughs and tells me how he could not spend the time participating in such an event. This conversation made me realize that fantasy sports have made me a better researcher. I started to wonder how hobbies can help us professionally.

As I look back at the hard work I have done over the past three weeks, I feel confident my researching skills will blend into my paralegal career. Throughout the last few weeks, I spent countless hours going over expert opinions on players and draft strategies. This is no different than reading case law or a judge’s opinion involving a court ruling. I had to sift out the opinions I found valid and create a logical reasoning for my plan of attack come draft day. This sounds similar to how paralegals and attorneys prepare evidence and precedent in order to develop a plan of attack for a big case or trial.

There is more to fantasy sports than going over expert (judge) opinions. If you plan to win your fantasy championship, you must be able to find and follow the evidence. I spent hours and hours pouring over statistical data. I found that I want to draft a tight-end who had less than 10 touchdowns the year before. Sounds crazy, but only one tight-end has recorded back-to-back seasons with double-digit touchdowns in the last 8 years. Endless examples like this are needed in order to win. Without research, someone might draft the running back who had a record year last year, but over- looked the fact that he is over the age of 30 and going to slow down. Variable after variable of evidence exists in sports, just as it does in law. Patterns and statistical data must be interpreted.

Another area in which fantasy sports has helped me is in regards to advancing my research skills and honing my ability to focus. While I certainly don’t have a diagnosis for ADD or ADHD, there are certain moments when I must use extra effort to maintain focus on one particular task. At times, this is not easy. But over the years, I have learned to master it and conducting research for fantasy sports has helped tremendously. I can sit down and read a fantasy draft guide from cover to cover. I can now go through article after article and read stats galore without my mind wandering off on a tangent. This focus has also bled over into my studies. I can now read an entire chapter out of my text book without having to reread multiple paragraphs; something I struggled with when I was younger.

Beyond preparing for your starting line-up, you must prepare for the unexpected.  When preparing for litigation, sometimes you have to plan for all possibilities. Take a criminal trial for example; you try to determine the attack angle your opposition will use against your client before the trial begins. However, during the trial, the opposition goes in a completely different direction. You must have enough research and trial preparation to adapt, otherwise you and your client will not like the outcome of the case. This is the same for fantasy sports. A successful fantasy sports enthusiast will have done enough research to plan ahead in the event things take an unexpected turn. I have to know which back-up players to keep on the bench for future emergency situations. During a season the research must continue. I have to keep an eye on free agents, determine who I should add to my team and who I should drop. The research process doesn’t end until the season is over. The same is true of client’s cases.

Some of you might be thinking I am crazy for coming up with such a comparison.  Research is the key to fantasy sports, just like it is the key for trial preparation. A well- prepared lawyer has a much better chance of winning his or her case than a quick witted lawyer who wings it. Albert Einstein once said, “If we knew what we were doing, we would not call it research!”  If you love sports and you have the time, I urge you to give fantasy sports a try. I also wonder – do you participate in any hobbies outside of office hours that build necessary career skills?  Maybe you do research for a book or article you are writing. Perhaps you like to help friends or family organize their work spaces. I would love to hear some of your examples.

Get up, get out, and find some hobbies! You never know how they might improve your abilities, improve your life or help you to excel in your career.

Rob Schwarz, Jr. is an aspiring paralegal student. He has a love-hate relationship with the law that makes him want to change it for the better. His focus is on corporate law and he has hopes to one day become a lawyer.

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Have a hobby that has had a direct impact on your career skills, abilities, aptitude, attitude or way of thinking? Tell us about it!

Wishing all our favorite paralegal people a fantastic weekend outside of those law firm gates! We’ll join you in a unified, paralegal sprint when the bell goes off. If you should happen to drop a heel, while making your swift departure into freedom…keep running! 

See you soon.