13 October 2006

Eight (or Nine) Attributes of a Go-To Lawyer

In its June 2006 issue, Corporate Counsel magazine defined a business' "go-to lawyer" as that attorney to whom executives, managers, and others turn to for legal advice because they want to work with the attorney and have confidence in his or her advice.

Daniel DiLucchio, the article's author, noted that "[g]o-to lawyers are not necessarily the deputy GC or managing counsel." Notwithstanding, the inherent value of go-to lawyers means that when these individuals are not at the top of the legal organizational tree, they are a good bet to reach the top someday.

The article identified eight attributes of a go-to lawyer:
  1. Knows the law — Has a thorough grasp of the relevant laws and regulations for his industry and keeps up with new developments.

  2. Excellent communicator — Knows how to explain the law and its implications to the client; has listening skills that are at least as good as his speaking and writing abilities.

  3. Confident style — Can connect with the client, is respectful but not cowed; can win the client's confidence and become a member of the team.

  4. Knowledge of the business — Able to identify the key strategic issues and use the law to help advance the business.

  5. Excellent judgment — Can make the right call on issues based on past experience and an understanding of similar situations.

  6. Willing to "put skin in the game" — Able to take a calculated risk with a client and communicate that he's standing behind him.

  7. Good work ethic — At a minimum, works the same hours as the client; is available, responsive, and amenable to time frame and expectations.

  8. Sense of urgency — Shares the client's need to move quickly in a highly competitive environment.

To this excellent list of eight points, I will humbly add a ninth: On top of things — Is not five months behind in professionally worthwhile but technically nonessential reading.

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