Lawyer types – what behaviour do you want?

There’s not much discussion of lawyer types. I don’t mean whether a lawyer is a property lawyer, an M&A lawyer, a pensions lawyer and so on; I mean how they behave within their chosen sector.

And when I say “behave”, I mean the characteristics they display when executing their role. For example, take a look at this diagram.

The vertical axis measures the lawyer’s willingness to form a view on risk – i.e. to make a judgment call and take the risk of getting it wrong.

The horizontal axis measures the lawyer’s desire to make the transaction happen – i.e. the lawyer’s willingness to get off the side-lines and get involved.

Depending on where a lawyer sits in the diagram gets you a very different type of lawyer and before you hire one, you need to figure out the type of behaviour that you are looking for.

For some businesses (or some functions within some businesses), a lawyer that scores in the bottom left quadrant is ideal. They need someone that is primarily an advisor: a lawyer that advises on the law, but does not venture much of an opinion beyond that.

For other businesses, particularly a B2B sales-driven business, a lawyer that scores in the top right quadrant is what they need. The nature of B2B sales-contracting is that it only ever happens successfully if the lawyer is both willing to make judgment calls and takes on an activist role in closing the deals.

The latter lawyer is a sales-side lawyer.  More on that lawyer-type next week.

...before you hire a lawyer, you need to figure out the type of behaviour that you are looking for.