Opening Statements

Drop 'n' Give Me 20

  • Print.

Fit lawyers may seem like an oxymoron to some. But this month the Chicago Bar Association aims to show that physically fit lawyers not only exist, but there are also a whole lot of them.

For the third consecutive year, the CBA’s Young Lawyers Section is hosting its Most Fit Lawyer Competition. Lawyers will compete against one another in six events testing cardiovascular fitness, strength and flexibility.

Chicago attorney Jill Eckert McCall, chair-elect of the CBA group and director of the ABA’s Young Lawyers Division, came up with the idea after her sister won a fitness contest at a local gym. Then at a different meeting, she overheard two fellow lawyers jousting over who could do the most push-ups, and the idea was born.

This year the contest is open to all comers; previously only section members were eligible to compete. And the field already is looking tough.

Among the expected competitors are suburban Chicago solo Carolyn Welch and Chicago appellate lawyer Chris Keleher.

Welch is going for a three-peat while Keleher is competing for his second title—but neither thinks victory is certain. “There were some good competitors last year, but I eked out the win,” says Keleher. “On a couple of the different exercises I won fairly easily, but on others I had my lunch handed to me.”

While Welch and Keleher like the competition, both also say the contest underscores the need for lawyers to maintain a healthy lifestyle. “Regular exercise and healthy eating are important for everyone,” says Welch. “Fitness is particularly important for lawyers, however, because of the high levels of stress we often have to manage.

“I find that exercising and eating right helps me to handle stress in a more productive and positive way.”


No Excuses

To suggest that it’s easy to keep physically fit while practicing law wouldn’t pass the “reasonable person rule,” but Chicago lawyer and running coach Brendan Cournane says it’s not impossible if you follow these tips for a healthier lifestyle:

• Select an activity that you know and enjoy. New and exotic activities may seem like a good idea, but the novelty wears off.

• Set a realistic and achievable goal and give yourself a reasonable time frame to achieve it. For example, select a 5K race 6-8 weeks in advance of starting the training regimen.

• Treat training an on ongoing commitment. Calendar your training sessions much as you would a court appearance or client meeting.

• The frequency and quality of your workout is more important than the length.

• Don’t let lack of time or other conflicts prevent you from exercising. It’s better to do shorter workouts than none at all.

• Enlist a professional to help you establish a training program that works and helps you avoid injury.

• Partner up. It’s easier to stay committed to exercise when another person or group is waiting for you to arrive.

• Review your fitness goals periodically to insure that you are staying on track.

For more training tips, visit

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.