Thursday, August 28, 2008

NSW Law Soc review of 'Why Lawyers Should Surf'

Review of 'Why Lawyers Should Surf' in the New South Wales Law Society Journal (August 2008) by Stephen Titus (solicitor). To read, click on the image on the left or here or see below.

A surfing fan says catch a wave

TIM KEVAN IS AN ENGLISH BARRISTER, writer and surfer, and Dr Michelle Tempest is a psychiatrist with a graduate law degree. Their book, aimed at lawyers, legal students and anyone interested in improving their working life with passion, uses the metaphor of surfing to show how to improve their work and achieve a balance with other interests. it succeeds.

All those who surf know the pleasure, connection with nature and sense of timelessness of surfing: the surfer's routine of waiting for the right weather conditiond, being in the right place at the right time, practising, utilising a rip to get out more easily, considering where the waves are breaking, choosing a wave, committing to it and getting the reward.

The authors apply this to the work environment, comparing surfing with preparation for a court case: the perseverance, patience and timely commitment, knowing the facts and law, being bold and committed where necessary, enjoying the process, the rewards and the exhilaration of a job well done.

The legal linkage works well. But one does not need to be a surfer, or a lawyer, to appreciate and enjoy the well-written, humourous and enjoyable examples and suggestions the authors make.

They provide helpful examples for self-improvement and mind power. They advise setting the right course, covering the groundwork, getting into as good a position as possible and making the right choices. They suggest living life with a passion, and balancing the natural world and work.

There are helpful tips on advocacy techniques, body language and the power of words. They talk about utilising communication skills, visualisation, setting goals and building rapport. They make suggestions on dealing with stress and emotions, time management and business development and maintaining a balance with health and leisure.

There are quotes and vignettes from Lou Reed, Thomas Edison, Rudyard Kipling, Rosa Parks and conservationist Rachel Carson, among others. All are thoughtful, some inspiring. Phil Edwards, iconic surfer, is quoted on not fearing the unknown: "To rise to the challenge and see the benefits of taking some risks. To feel alive. To realise that through acts of courage, facing fear, insight can flourish. There are uncounted millions of people who now go through life without any sort of real, vibrant kick ... the answer is surfing."

And Gregory peck, in the role of Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird: "You have to dream, you have to have a vision, then you have to set a goal for yourself that might even scare you a little because sometimes that seems far beyond your reach. Then I think you have to develop a kind of resistance to rejections and to the disappointments that are sure to come your way."

The book makes you feel like working smarter and going surfing, or whatever activity provides a release for you. I have always felt more focused at work after a morning surf. Going surfing gives a clarity to life that other people yearn for.

ITV Local plug 'Why Lawyers Should Surf'

Thanks to ITV Local for a plug of 'Why Lawyers Should Surf'. To read it, click here.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Reviews of 'Why Lawyers should Surf' at The Times Online

Two reviews of 'Why Lawyers Should Surf' have been published at The Times Online's Surf Nation blog in the last few months. The most recent is by Tom Anderson author of 'Riding the Magic Carpet: A Surfer's Odyssey to Find the Perfect Wave' and the earlier one is by Alex Wade the writer of the blog and the author of 'Surf Nation: In Search of the Fast Lefts and Hollow Rights of Britain and Ireland'. Click on the date to be taken to the original or read below.

August 12th 2008
Meanwhile, why should lawyers surf? Having been one, I'd say that the answer is that if they don't, when they finally return to live once again by the coast they'll be condemned to languish forever in the intermediate zone, sometimes getting it right, sometimes getting it wrong. But Tim Kevan, author of a book cunningly entitled Why Lawyers Should Surf, begs to differ. He's quit briefs in the City for clean lines at Lynemouth, and his book is reviewed below by Tom Anderson, a Welshman who had many scrapes with the lawyers (not least, a night out with me which we somehow both survived) but never became one. Instead he leapt straight to being a writer and surfer, penning the much-acclaimed Riding the Magic Carpet. I'm not jealous, honest, so without further ado, here's Tom review.

From the days of the Hawaiian kings to the present, surfing has always captured people's imagination and managed to take them out of their day to day lives. It is uplifting and spiritual and provides a connection with nature and forces greater than ourselves. So it seems only natural when the authors point to surfing as a way of helping cope with the stresses of modern living and of re-gaining some balance in life.

Why Lawyers Should Surf is written by a former barrister and a psychiatrist. I particularly liked the way they avoided the cheesy, self-satisfied tone that instantly puts me off most motivational books, which too often come across as some sort of instruction booklet for life but which forget the art and lose sight of the soul. This book on the other hand not only provides an extremely clear and accessible introduction to cutting-edge techniques for getting one's mind into shape but it also provides a context. It stresses the need to feed the soul and listen to your own heart just as surfers monitor the movements of the ocean.

The use of the metaphor of surfing works surprisingly well. It not only taps into the inherent power of the sea but also has the benefit of resonating with those who have perhaps previously only ever surfed the internet. What's more, the book subtly introduces the reader to a wide mix of literary, scientific and spiritual sources. As a surfer I particularly liked the enormous range of the quotations and reflections on the meaning of surfing itself and our almost primeval connection with the sea. (In many ways it is a song for the modern age which could well become a cult classic like perhaps Anne Morrow Lindbergh's Gift from the Sea.

As for the reference to lawyers, it is clear that they are simply being used as an example of the work-shackled majority who perhaps yearn for something more in their lives. Certainly it applies across the board to anyone looking for inspiration. The tone throughout is authentic and a nice footnote is that since co-writing the book Tim Kevan has indeed walked the talk and given up the trappings of the bar for the surf of North Devon. He is now living in Braunton and writing a novel for Bloomsbury Publishing. That's what I'm talking about!

Spot on for surfers, lawyers and anyone else looking for inspiration.

28 March 2008
During my Wrecking Machine phase, I was a lawyer (that's two plugs of your first book. I'll let you off because it's your birthday. Ed.). This was a profession whose intellectual aspects always intrigued me but whose rigmarole wasn't my thing. At all. Today I'm off to interview a lawyer I met in the line-up at Freights yesterday, this for a weekly slot on lawyers with interests outside the law (which today features sometime contributor to this blog and Perranporth surfboat rower Andy Cox). The Bajan lawyer's name is Barry Gale and watching him surf yesterday put me in mind of Tim Kevan's book, 'Why Lawyers Should Surf'. Kevan's book is a passionate call for professionals to destress themselves by gliding on a few turquoise walls. Kevan, with co-author Michelle Tempest, makes more than a few nods to the Romantic notion of the sublime, a trait that he shares with many writers on surfing (though to my knowledge, Kevan is the first writer to co-opt TS Eliot - arch-modernist and poet of despair - in favour of surfing). While avowedly a motivational book Why Lawyers Should Surf contains many fascinating curios on surfing and makes me wonder whether, if I'd been surfing as much as I'd wanted to do during my legal (illegal) days, I might have avoided the Wrecking Machine phase.

'Why Lawyers Should Surf' is available at at £9.49.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Review of 'Why Lawyers Should Surf' at Swordplay

Review of 'Why Lawyers Should Surf' at Swordplay. To read, click here or see below.

Surfing and the law go together about as well as Formula 1 and Chelsea basements. Right? Well, no. According to barrister turned blogger/writer Tim Kevan, today’s stressed out lawyers would do well to immerse themselves in what the Hawaiians call ‘the sport of kings’. For Kevan, surfing has a spiritual essence which is the perfect antidote to the high levels of stress and depression found among lawyers. He should know - Kevan recently quit his life as a London personal injury barrister to live by the sea in North Devon, where he regularly surfs. Not many lawyers will necessarily be able to make quite such a radical move, but they might well find themselves inspired by Kevan’s recently published book, Why Lawyers Should Surf. A motivational and erudite read with plenty of esoteric material on surfing and some well-researched pieces on the reality of life as a lawyer.

'Why Lawyers Should Surf' is available at at £9.49.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Review of 'Why Lawyers Should Surf' at Slide Magazine

Review of 'Why Lawyers Should Surf' in Slide Magazine by Alison Aprhys. To read, click on the image on the left or see below.

Written by a barrister and a psychiatrist and with an introduction by a champion boxer, Why Lawyers Should Surf (WLSS) appears to be the love-child of a self-help motivational guide for success in work and life and a marketing exercise to encourage waveriding. Crimewriter P.D.James once said, "Lawyers are intelligent people whose profession is argument", and authors Kevan and Tempest seem to agree. They quote a John Hopkins University study, which found that lawyers in the US suffered four times the average depression rate. deciding that the cynicism that lawyers use so successfully in their professional lives was too often pouring into their private time, causing unnecessary stress, unhappiness and depression, Kevan and Tempest use the metaphor of surfing and the ocean throughout this book to discuss methods in which they can better communicate and improve their lives through employing the glass 'half-full' approach. This is often referred to be surfers as, 'there'll be another wave in a minute mate'. Recently Australian chapters of Surfing Lawyers which bills itself as 'a non-profit organization of attorneys who promote and preserve the lifestyle, causes and concerns of surfers around the world', so there's probably a market in Australia for the book. But if groups like this can change life for the legal profession as we know it, or whether WLSS will cause a flood of solicitors and barrister forgoing golf and buying up longboards is debatable.