Confessions of a Former Couch Potato

Lawrence Jacobson goes from the sofa to swimming with the sharks

Published in 2009 Southern California Super Lawyers Magazine — February 2009

Some people clean the garage or rearrange furniture when they get bored.

Lawrence H. Jacobson had a different approach. The Beverly Hills real estate lawyer realized some 25 years ago that his grown daughters no longer demanded his time and his wife, Cheryl, was busy building her career as an interior designer. He was in his 40s and fumbling for a way to fill his free time.

"I looked at myself and realized that I had become a real couch potato, so I decided to get into shape," says Jacobson, now 66.

One thing led to another and in the ensuing 25 years, Jacobson has run the New York Marathon, climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and Mount Whitney in Sequoia National Park, completed the gruelingly famous Camp Pendleton Mud Run—eight times—and has dived with Caribbean reef sharks in the Bahamas. Oh yeah, he's also earning an archeological certificate from UCLA Extension and he bought and began riding a quarter horse last year.

What's left on his "bucket list"? When we spoke with Jacobson last fall, he was planning a November excursion to Chuuk, a group of islands in the South Pacific, for an underwater archeological survey of more than three dozen Japanese Navy ships sunk by U.S. bombers in 1944. "It hits two of my favorite areas—archeology and scuba diving," he explains.

Planning each excursion, which can be a six-month process, is almost as much fun as experiencing them. When he and his friend Paul swam with Caribbean reef sharks in 2006, however, he left a few of the details out to spare his wife from worrying.

"I just said, ‘Paul and I are going to the Bahamas to go scuba diving.' But the shirt I brought back had a big shark on the front, so I decided I had to tell her before she saw my pictures or she'd really be mad."

Jacobson, who specializes in testifying as an expert witness and consulting on real estate cases, broker malpractice and legal malpractice, says he works hard during the week in order to clear up his weekends for fun. But his love of adventure serves him well at work.

"A dive or any of the other activities are not that dissimilar from preparing as an expert witness. You have to evaluate the risk, see where the dangers are, and take appropriate steps to make sure you're prepared for them," he says. "You go in prepared, but never overconfident."

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