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Community News

Feb. 17, 2010

Labor and employment attorney Matthew Rafat has been coaching youth basketball for about seven years, just one year longer than he has run his solo practice in Santa Clara County. “My biggest lessons in life came from coaching kids,” the 32-year-old said. “I started coaching when I was about 25-years-old, and it was stunning to think that anyone actually looked up to me. At first, it’s the most frightening feeling in the world,” he said. While Rafat dedicates most of his time to the courtroom, on weekends he makes room to spend time on the court. For two hours every Saturday Rafat shows kids in grades 2nd to 5th how to shoot hoops at the Campbell Community Center. Some Sundays he gives private lessons, too. Aside from court time, Rafat’s day job and night hobby have a lot in common, and each helps keep him balanced while doing the other. “Recently, during settlement discussions, I discovered opposing counsel also coaches youth sports. We spent about two minutes chatting about our coaching experiences. Even if the case doesn’t settle and moves to litigation, it’s going to be much harder to treat each other without civility now what we have something in common,” Rafat explained. Coaching youth sports also has also reinforced Rafat’s belief that diversity a fundamental American concept. “This year, my team has kids with backgrounds from Japan, China, Mexico, Africa, the Middle East and Ireland. Later on, these kids will probably go to different high schools and separate based on income or education status. Right now, however, they have the opportunity to play together and become friends.” As similar as practicing law and coaching youth sports may be, Rafat also sees the latter as an opportunity to step out of his daytime persona. “You worry that your own personality issues—the same impatience and hyper competitiveness that drive many lawyers—will negatively affect the kids … when you’re around kids, everything else must fade away” he explained. “You must learn to be calm and collected with them no matter what.”

Labor and employment attorney Matthew Rafat has been coaching youth basketball for about seven years, just one year longer than he has run his solo practice in Santa Clara County. ?My biggest lessons in life came from coaching kids,? the 32-year-old said. ?I started coaching when I was about 25-years-old, and it was stunning to think that anyone actually looked up to me. At first, it?s the most frightening feeling in the world,? he said.

While Rafat dedicates most of his time to t...

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