Lawyers are trained to spot risk. They identify problems, paint them red, and attack them as a zealous advocate. When I worked in a litigation firm as a young attorney, I was paid to win battles. Although it was exciting at the time, I’m happier now as a business creator. These days it’s more about helping my clients succeed in business than winning their lawsuit.
I made the transition from legal mercenary to business builder after spending several years working on contracts in the Australian natural resource industry. My job was to make a successful project, not start a dispute. I learned to look for opportunity in contract negotiation rather than constantly warning project managers about risk.
While working in industry I had a up-close view of how lawyers are seen from the company’s perspective. I had to quickly evolve from team fighter to team player. That meant being in the flow, instead of constantly trying to direct it. I began to focus on what was truly important – like finishing a project on time and within budget. Nobody wanted the American lawyer nit-picking the fine print of a boiler plate contract while the rest of the team was focused on capturing the next company opportunity.
Sometimes you need a battle-hardened litigator to represent you in a legal dispute. But until that time comes your choice of lawyer should be based on your objectives. If you’re out to build a commercial success you should seek an attorney who has more than litigation or adversarial experience. You want a lawyer who will help seize the opportunity, not scare it away.
As Managing Attorney at 1SourceLaw.com I recommend that you choose your legal counsel according to your needs. Unless you have a dispute, or want to start one, don’t retain the pure bread litigator. Investigate the attorney’s experience within the business world. Make sure your lawyer is practiced in the art of spotting and seizing corporate opportunity.