So what are the signs that you may be a below average lawyer? According to Susan Moon who posted an article on Above the Law’s Blog entitled: Moonlighting: How Do You Know If You’re A Bad Lawyer?, the following are some of the most common signs:
- You CYA all the time. All lawyers CYA to some degree at work. I mean, we are lawyers after all. “Risk averse” is our middle name (in addition to “anal retentive” and “grammar police”). But there are some of you though who go to all lengths to not be held responsible for anything. These are people who hate to ever express a final legal recommendation or opinion on an issue, especially in writing.
- You hide behind formality and process. These lawyers overuse words like “whereas,” “hereinafter,” and “attached hereto.” Utilizing these anachronisms in contracts is bad enough. Is it really necessary to use them in regular conversation?
- You’re resistant to change. Some of you are comfortable only doing things the way they’ve been approved and done before — whether it’s contract templates or processes — regardless of the scenario. You become angry when others have the audacity to suggest that there may be better alternatives.
- Clients don’t include you in their conversations. Even if you have excellent legal acumen, it’s not enough to be a good legal service provider. Good lawyers nurture soft skills that help them to win their clients’ trust and respect. If you find that business clients are constantly leaving you out of the conversation, are continually resistant to your advice, or just flat out don’t like you, then chances are it’s not them, it’s you.
- You have no comments a lot of the time. Issues that arise and affect companies are varied and dynamic. If you’re reading proposals, reviewing contracts for new relationships, or evaluating a business plan for new issues, you should have more to say than, “Uh, looks good — make it so.” If you don’t have much to say most of the time, it’s not because you were lucky enough to have clients who possess an innate talent for avoiding legal issues. It means you either aren’t spotting the issues or aren’t understanding what’s being proposed
- You engage in unethical behavior. These behaviors can range from those that seem minor like telling small lies or making misleading statements to avoiding issues that you know you should address and even knowingly assisting your client in breaking the law or avoiding corporate compliance processes. Despite lawyer jokes to the contrary, companies expect their lawyers to guide them in ethical practices. White lies are for home for when your significant other asks you if the dress makes her butt look fat.