Lawyers are known to be naysayers. Professional sceptics, they are often paid to find faults.
Once the father of a friend who was starting a new business shared an idea of a business with me. Asked for legal advice. I told him 20 potential legal problems with his business plan. I took pride in my knowledge of law, but I never thought how all the doomsday predictions I made, made the entrepreneur feel!
He got pissed off. He never spoke to me again.
Damn. I had a crush on that friend, and she was nice enough to introduce me to her dad. All I did was piss him off. Not a good move.
Another lawyer friend was telling me a story today, which reminded me of this old incident.
My friend was asked for advice about a property lease deal. He told all the problems with the deal to his client, especially advised against issuing post-dated cheques for rent. The other side refused to sign the deal without post-dated cheques. Then the deal fell through as both parties took an intransigent stance.
If your friend is going to get married, are you going to tell him about how many ways his wife could misuse the law and take all his money and property and divorce him?
A wife can file a case under Section 377 against the husband. It’s wicked but possible. It happens a lot these days. You can’t file a marital rape case, but you can file a complaint alleging “unnatural sex”.
Should you tell this to your friend who is planning to say yes to the love of his life for getting married? Or even saying yes to an arranged marriage for that matter?
Not the greatest thing to do you see.
So what do we do?
As lawyers, we see lots of dangers ahead, as we should. That is our training, that is our superpower, but that can also be our liability.
Imagine that you work in a company. For the marketing team or the sales team, you may look like a roadblock. The guys who shoot down brilliant ideas, make doing business harder, put in crazy legal terms in contracts that make it harder to sell products or services.
You can’t be that person. You cannot stop at foreseeing problems and being the Cassandra, but you have to be the person who also gives the solution and the assurance that if push comes to shove you can handle it.
We are your lawyer. We have your back. You don’t need to be people being wicked, we will give it back to them. We are here to protect you.
We will tell you how to stay on the right path, and if people are still trying to screw around, we are here to ensure you prevail.
We are here for you, so you can take that little bit of risk.
That’s the kind of lawyer people love.
You should tell your friend planning to get married: hey, yes there are a lot of ways a wicked bride can file false cases against you, but if such a thing happens I will be there to save your ass. Just do these couple of things and keep me updated if you ever think that things are going south. I know there may be people who will scare you, but you have nothing to worry about because I am your friend.
If you are an in-house counsel, you have to make sure that long term interests of the company are secure, that you do not land in legal soup, but you also have to come up with ideas that enable the business team to get what they want to get. Innovation cannot be sacrificed at the altar of legality all the time. That would turn your company into a failure, a laggard.
You need to be the in-house legal genie, who grants people their wishes, with clever legal tricks, not that in-house legal ghoul who is always raining on everyone’s parade with legal objections.
It’s not so different if you are a law firm lawyer or the litigator. People would pay you for solutions, not for identifying problems and telling them the provisions of law.
And that is why you need to be a legal engineer, a legal innovator.
Tell your client the risks of issuing a post-dated cheque to the landlord, but also tell them that I will be there if you face such a situation to get out of that tricky situation with clever legal manoeuvres, and I will draft a contract now that would make it hard for those people to do any such things. You need to help to get that deal done, otherwise, nobody makes money, and what kind of legal advisor are you?
A solution-oriented lawyer will always beat the lawyers who have not learned to invent solutions but only go by the black and white text written in law books.
We teach solution-oriented lawyering in all our courses. Check them out:
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