Since I started practicing law in 1997, the manner in which closings of corporate deals are conducted has been completely transformed. In the old days, a typical closing would be conducted in a conference room in a law office, and the various documents that needed to be executed would be organized in manila file folders arrayed in a scary-looking retractable metal contraption that kept the folders separated. All attorneys and principals would be in the room, except that junior attorneys and paralegals would occasionally go scurrying off to make copies.
Over the New Year, I saw the new Leonardo DiCaprio/Martin Scorsese film, “The Wolf of Wall Street,” which told the apparently mostly-not-embellished true story of boiler room scammer Jordan Belfort. In addition to setting a record for use of the f-word in a film, this movie was the most relevant to what I do for a living since “The Social Network” improbably addressed the issue of dilution of startup founders.
In choosing which law firm to engage for your transactional matter, one threshold determination to make is whether to use a large or small firm, or something in between. Needless to say, I’m not disinterested on this point. The way I market my firm to potential clients inevitably portrays larger firms as not worth the cost – at least with respect to the types of matters I handle. But I spent most of my career in big firms, and there are absolutely transactions that lend themselves to the resources that a “name” firm can bring to the table.
In my post on emailing vs. phone calls, which laid out some advantages of communicating by email, I didn’t address one thing that many people hate about email, which is that it can at times seem impossible to keep up with the volume of incoming messages. Unfortunately from an attorney’s perspective, if you miss a deadline because you lose track of an email, it won’t fly to complain to your client that you get 500 (or whatever) emails a day. Regardless of whether law school lasts for three years or two, as President Obama would have it, there is little to no attention paid there to such mundane issues as email management, though this ends up being crucial to being a reliable attorney, which is a prerequisite to being a successful attorney. [Read more…]
A near-constant theme in my interactions with clients and other attorneys is the relative merits of various modes of communication — email, phone or in-person meetings. After a long email chain, someone will get frustrated and say, “Why don’t we just get on the phone and figure this out?” But those same people will, on another occasion, dial into a conference call, quickly get bored, and hone their skills at computer Solitaire.