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June 27, 2006

The 7 Habits of Highly Useless Corporate Lawyers.

"Ernie from Glen Burnie", not his real name, is an unreliable but wise childhood friend of mine who likes the works of Hunter Thompson. EFGB is now a partner at a Washington, DC law firm. For years he has claimed that the following--by an unknown and long-dead lawyer, and dated 1836--was discovered during the 1980s in the ruins of an old Episcopal church in a northern Virginia town near DC. I would believe EFGB--except that I doubt that the word "weenie" was much in style in the antebellum American south. The name of the now defunct law firm?
Lame & Poofy, says EFGB. The parchment:

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.

Posted by JD Hull at June 27, 2006 10:14 PM


Great post. All true.

Posted by: Dan Harris at October 5, 2008 05:24 PM

That's funny. Maybe if more attorneys had taken the advice mockingly given, then we would not have had collateralized mortgages crapping out. Maybe if more people had been risk averse buying their homes, we wouldn't be teetering on the edge of recession, and at Dow 8000.

Yes, lawyers say no a lot, but then again, people want to do lots of dumb things.

Posted by: Atty in DC at November 19, 2008 06:43 PM

These are classic, Dan, even if they're not 19th century weeny-isms! And they apply just as much to litigators. I'm re-posting this on my blog (with attribution, natch!)

Posted by: Terri Weiss at November 10, 2010 02:25 AM

To: "Atty in DC". Thanks belatedly, bold psuedo-anonymous dude, for the comment. Interesting point. But we've never known any attorneys so hard up that they needed to advise home purchasers on their transactions. It's a specialty that escaped us. So thanks for the alert. Dan Hull

Posted by: Dan Hull at November 14, 2010 03:34 PM

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