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February 11, 2008

"Do we really need a memo on that?"*

Go the mirror and practice saying that to yourself and to your GC.

Save money, time and relationships. Answer the question. Cut to the chase. Take a stand. Aside from necessary opinion letters, do not offer to write or write a cover-everyone's-ass and/or comprehensive "all-legal-theories-and-strategies" memorandum unless your in-house lawyer really wants it. And then try to talk her or him out of it. Part of your job as outside counsel is to guide and make the GC be and look good by saving money and time. Also: if you are in litigation, test out your brilliant ideas and research in a draft brief or another instrument or document the client can actually use later on. Skip the 10-, 20- and 35-page memo. Try to make memos you do write short, and reflect the group's cumulative thinking on that issue or project. Quit re-inventing. Make clients trust you.

*The actual question is borrowed, stolen or paraphrased from some other lawyer--likely a law firm management "great" like Patrick McKenna, Jim Durham or Patrick Lamb (I can't remember which)--and my firm loves it. So do pleasantly-surprised clients. We have had it in practice so long that it became "ours." Mea culpa for not disclosing the first time I posted it today.

Posted by JD Hull at February 11, 2008 11:32 PM

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