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Should I try to help The Other Side’s lawyer? A discussion

The following is adapted from comments I made at Sean Hogle’s splendid lawyers-only discussion forum redline.net, in a thread entitled Run your own redline dammit. Responding to Sean’s post saying that BigLaw lawyers seem not to send redlines, an anonymous commenter said (possibly satirically), “‘”Big’ firm lawyer here: yea, run your own damn redlines! We’re not here to make your job easier. We’re here to be zealous advocates for our client. There is no upside to doing your job for you.”

Oh?

We’re not here to make your job easier.

1. When you make my job easier, it helps both of our respective clients to get a workable deal to signature in the shortest possible time. That’s usually what both our clients want.

2. When you proactively help me in that endeavor, it sends a message that you’re a capable, confident, cooperative lawyer. That’s the kind to whom the rest of us like to refer future business.

3. When you seem interested mainly in proving that you’re smarter than I am, it sends the opposite message.

There’s one lawyer of my acquaintance who is expert in a particular field. The lawyer also is something of a schmuck who gets in the way of making deals happen. There have been several occasions over the years when I’ve intentionally not referred a potential client to this lawyer.

We’re here to be zealous advocates for our client.

That’s fine up to a point: We lawyers get paid in part to think negative thoughts and to pay due attention to risks.

But the operative word is “due.” Most clients accept that doing business together comes with risks. They generally want, above all, to get the damned contract signed so that everyone can get on with it.

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