10 February 2012 Jay Shepherd

Simplicity and lawyers

A friend of mine recently complained how things become so much more complicated once the lawyers get involved. And quite frankly, he’s right. Lawyers do tend to make simple things more complicated. Part of the reason for this is because lawyers are trained to spot issues and raise them before they turn into problems. This is a legitimate and valuable role for lawyers. They are trained in law school to become experts at issue-spotting.

But for many lawyers, this becomes a habit. They end up focusing too much on spotting issues and detecting things that can go wrong. Trying to plan around these issues necessarily complicates the job at hand.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Instead of just focusing on spotting issues, the better lawyers look for ways to help the clients do what they want to do.

This isn’t a new concept. More than 100 years ago, legendary financier J.P. Morgan explained the proper role of lawyers to his own counsel:

I don’t know as I want a lawyer to tell me what I cannot do. I hire him to tell me how to do what I want to do.

What a beautiful and simple concept. Telling your clients how to do what they want to do.

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