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August 09, 2011

Our Classic, Our Mantra & Only Hit Post: The 7 Habits of Highly Useless Outside Corporate Lawyers.

June 27, 2006:

The 7 Habits of 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 our native DC. I would believe EFGB--except that I doubt that the word "weenie" was much in style in the antebellum American south:

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 August 9, 2011 01:18 PM


What a great way to get this point across! Sadly, this is oftentimes a fairly accurate depiction of the profession. Thanks for the reminder not to fall into those "habits"!


Posted by: Shawn E. Tuma at August 10, 2011 10:46 AM

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