“Lawyers Can’t Jump” raises $10,000 for Make-A-Wish Foundation

If there is one thing that personal injury lawyers understand very well it’s this:  the outcome of their cases have real and long-lasting impact on their clients. There is nothing abstract about negotiating settlements from car accidents, slips and falls, dog bites, or bullying. Real people are affected for years—and frequently not for the better.

The other curious thing about personal injury lawyers is that the community is quite small, even in Greater Toronto. This means that personal injury lawyers get to know each other over the years.

“We have relationships with each other, even though those relationships are adversarial due to the nature of the work we do,” says Isaac Zisckind of Lee & Associates.
But there is one thing that personal injury lawyers agree on, and that’s doing charity work for good causes. There are a number of hockey, baseball, and golf tournaments for charity already in Greater Toronto organized by lawyers.

Zisckind and his friends Chet Wydrzynski of Reisler Franklin and T.J. Gogna of Zarolia Barristers have been playing basketball for more than a decade. Their love of basketball, coupled with the desire to do some good for their community, led to the first annual “Lawyers Can’t Jump” basketball tournament in support of Make-a-Wish® Canada.  “Lawyers Can’t Jump” joins Bay Street Hoops as charity basketball tournaments organized by Toronto lawyers.

“We came up with the idea in the late winter 2012 at a bar. It was the cliché—we sketched out the idea for the tournament on a cocktail napkin,” says Wydrzynski.

The name for the tournament an obvious reference to the 1992 basketball film “White Men Can’t Jump” starring Welsey Snipes and Woody Harrelson. All across the U.S, “ball” means basketball and is huge at American colleges. And it doesn’t hurt that President Obama had a basketball court installed at the White House and is glued to the college playoffs each year during “March Madness.”

The irreverence of lawyers poking fun at themselves also comes with the turf of personal injury lawyers, probably related to self-confidence and a warrior mentality. The insurance bar is known for being less stodgy and more edgy than other legal practice areas, says Zisckind.

“The times are changing. The new generation of lawyers is bringing in a new collegial attitude. And work-life balance is an issue in our profession. The tournament was a great chance to blow off steam, meet other personal injury lawyers, and raise some money for a good cause at the same time,” says Zisckind.

Plus, basketball is relatively affordable:  rent a court and someone always has a ball. And, to look your best on the court, you could use a brand new pair of name brand high-tops.

The first round-robin “Lawyers Can’t Jump” tournament was held on October 4, 2012, at Hoopdome located in Downsview Park. There were eight teams of about eight players each, plus another 40 spectators.

About $10,000 (net) was raised for Make-A-Wish Foundation that grants wishes to children between 3 and 17 years of age who are very ill. The Foundation brings hope and joy to a child with a life-threatening medical condition.

Congratulations to tournament winners Raphael Barristers. Runner-up was team Diamond & Diamond.

Various medical professionals were also invited to participate in the tournament, including Dr. Mike the Chiropractor.

Raffle prizes included:  two pairs of courtside Raptors tickets for a pre-season game courtesy of Andrew Lee and Isaac Zisckind of Lee & Associates;  a pair of tickets to a Toronto Argonauts game, courtesy of Jeremy Diamond of Diamond and Diamond;  and two $100 gift certificates to Staples courtesy of Paula Stamp of Accident Resolutions Group.

Thanks to:  James Reevie from Real Sports for hosting a sports memorabilia auction during the games.  All profits went to the Make-A-Wish Foundation;  Score Promotions for the loot bags; with some great swag to take home;  Professional Court Reporters for sweat towels;  and Network Court Reporting for catering the event; and Cassius Williams, owner of Locus 144, for hosting the afterparty.

Founding sponsors of the tournament include:  Grillo Barristers; Diamond & Diamond;  Lee & Associates;  Network Reporting & Mediation;  Raphael Barristers;  Reisler Franklin;  Rich Rothstein;  and Zarolia Barristers.