Monday, June 04, 2007

Counsel - Friend or Foe?

Beyond considerations of competence, how much does your choice of deal counsel matter? For larger companies, what about your internal counsel – are they helping or hurting your cause? As I’ve harped on before, there’s a cost to having your company viewed as being hard to deal with. It’s great to be known as a tough negotiator, but you never want to cross the line to the corporate equivalent of “unreasonable asshole.”

In fact, the biggest problem I’ve encountered isn’t overly-hard negotiating, but rather being a difficult pain in the ass over things that don’t really matter. Very little in corporate law is black and white – it is almost always a balancing of risks and opportunities. When it comes to your deal, a good lawyer will pay a lot more attention to remote risks that carry major potential consequences than to those risks that are likelier but would create only minor problems. Beware those lawyers who can’t tell the difference. If you find yourself arguing more with your own attorney than with the other side, that’s a sign you’ve got a problem.

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