November 08, 2011
Feeding the Monster: "Do you really need a Memo on that?"
Can we stop feeding the Monster every time we get the chance? Some legal memos, cases summaries and strategy documents "you can bill for" do seem like winding up without ever really pitching. There are times you don't need to scorch the earth. To save time, money and relationships, just answer the question. Talk everyone out of the Full-Monty.
Do the research, take a stand and, if possible, write it all up in a very short file memo or--even better--in the document you are actually going to use: the pleading, the motion, the response, the letter, the instrument. Even if you don't end up using it, what the draft document "looks like" helps everyone make the next decision, and take the next step. You can still back up critical points with more small discrete memos, showing research and/or thought process.
Skip the 10-, 20- and 35-page memo. Try to make memos you do do be shorter, and reflect the group's cumulative thinking on that issue or project. And aside from necessary opinion letters, and really needed formal white papers, don't 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.
The client's call, of course. But you can lead a little.
Posted by JD Hull at November 8, 2011 11:59 PM