June 12, 2007

Useless Habits of Outside Counsel

Ombuds frustrated by outside counsel may appreciate this post from an attorney's blog. Dan Hull, a litigator and lobbyist in San Diego, relates this supposedly ancient list of "The 7 Habits of Highly Useless Corporate Lawyers":
  1. Be risk-averse at all times. Clients have come to expect this from their lawyers. It's tradition. Honor it.
  2. Tell the client only what it can't do. Business clients are run by business people who take risks. They need to be managed, guided, stopped. Don't encourage them.
  3. Whatever you do, don't take a stand, and don't make a recommendation. (You don't want to be wrong, do you?)
  4. Treat the client as a potential adversary at all times. Keep a distance.
  5. Cover yourself. Write a lot to the client. Craft lots of confirming letters which use clauses like "it is our understanding", "our analysis is limited to..." and "we do not express an opinion as to whether..."
  6. Churn up extra fees with extra letters and memoranda and tasks. Milk the engagement. (If you are going to be a weenie anyway, you might as well be a sneaky weenie.)
  7. As out-house counsel, you are American royalty. Never forget that.
Sound familiar to anyone? (What About Clients?)

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