Jill Schachner Chanen, in an excellent article in the July 2005 of the ABA Journal, states that clients are sick of “profit-minded, specialty-touting multinational megalaw firms. Given the high salaries firms pay lawyers, clients can no longer hire advisers who have nothing to offer besides basic legal training.”
Enter, the “strategic business lawyer” who:
Makes Deals Go, rather than simply Saying No;
Is Integrated, not Isolated;.
Offers practical advice, not “ivory tower” observations;
Is a Deal Saver, not a Deal Killer;
Engages in Strategic Questioning, Not Naysaying;
Understands Risk, and is not frightened by it;
Earns trust, rather than demanding respect;
Devises creative solutions, rather than acting like a technician;
Anticipates problems instead of just reacting to them.
As noted in this summary of Ms. Chanen’s article by Larry Bodine, clients want a strategic lawyer who:
“Knows how to approach a problem in light of the company’s overall business strategy. Helps the client accomplish its business goals. Is one part cosigliere, one part Sun-Tzu warrior and one part Yoda. Shows clients how the law helps them gain a competitive position. Are business-centric, not law-centric. May say “no” to a client, but will have another suggestion to meet the business objective. Understands the client’s business, how it operates, how it makes money, who its competitors are, what its key relationships are and what its goals for growth are. Understands how much risk the business accepts. Won’t suggest filing suit if it would jeopardize an important business relationship. Advises clients how to set up new systems for oversight so that it can prevent litigation in the first place.”