On June 25 the entire staff of Desh International & Business Law in Bellevue swapped their business suits and button downs for their old grubbies to run in the mud, pull each other over obstacles and run through water to raise money for PATH at the Whistler Tough Mudder Half.
The Desh Tough Mudder team got down and dirty to raise money and awareness for PATH’s innovative work by helping each other through a 5-mile obstacle course that required stamina, teamwork and grit. PATH is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to improving global health.
“We chose this challenge to put our team to the test and contribute to solutions for global health,” said firm founder Pradnya Desh, who suggested the idea to her colleagues. “We help innovators change the world. It applies to clients with improved technologies and better ideas, also to giving and volunteering because we strongly believe that we can make the world better through our efforts as lawyers.” Raising money for PATH fits that model.
Everyone in the nine-person firm competed in the event except Amrita Srivastava, who had a baby in April and served as team coach, hiking along with the team on the steep course and suggesting strategy for the obstacles. In addition to Desh, the racers included Candace Wilkerson, Mona McPhee, Andy Le, Sara Xia, Victor King, Akshat Divatia and Alex Folkerth. The team signed up in January, with some starting to train immediately and others taking a while longer to get off the couch.
In the end, the training paid off. Although the terrain was steep, “it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be,” Desh said. To prepare for the obstacles, the lawyers added strategy sessions to their weekly staff meetings. “We put an obstacle on the screen and discussed what our strategy would be for when we got there. It’s what we know how to do.”
Desh compares the physical and teamwork challenges to practicing law. “Preparation is key,” she said, “not only for the event, but long-term strengthening and skill-building. And then the teamwork. We had different strengths. We as a team learned a lot more about how to work together, and to be able to trust each other.”
For example, one lawyer found himself struggling to climb a 40-foot wall. “The only thing between falling on your head [and getting over the top] was your colleagues,” Desh said. “He said ‘just drop me, let me go,’ but we would not let him go.”
That teamwork has already carried into the firm. “We have to remember the team is more than the sum of its parts,” she said. “I was amazed on Monday morning to see people apply so quickly what they learned to real legal issues.”
Is the team ready to do it again? Some are and some are waiting to see. Meanwhile, Desh noted that a Seattle Tough Mudder event is scheduled in September. Regardless, she encourages others in the legal community to join the Desh team this month in donating to PATH at https://www.crowdrise.com/desh-laws-tough-mudder-for-path.
The Desh team, from left, Pradnya Desh, Sara Xia, Akshat Divatia, Alex Folkerth, Andy Le, Victor King, Candace Wilkerson and Mona McPhee.
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