Why lawyers are more like salesmen

Being a lawyer is a lot like being a salesman, but being paid by the hour instead of by commission.

It’s also like the line in the movie “Swingers” in that being a lawyer is like being “the guy behind the guy”. (Same for women - I didn't write the line, I’m just saying it’s applicable.)

Let me start by saying I do corporate law. I never see the inside of a courtroom. I write and negotiate contracts for companies, large and small, I give business transaction advice. How should we structure this deal? What are the risks? How do we mitigate the risks and create a true win-win?

The entire job is dealing with people and personalities. You basically talk to people and/or write all day long. You talk to your clients about what deals to do and how to do them. You talk to the other side about concerns they have and how to address them so both sides are happy with the resulting deal.

Then you read and write a lot of contract language. You have to think about various scenarios - what if this happens, how do we handle that scenario in the agreement? You brainstorm hypotheticals then talk to both sides about how they’d want to ideally, and fairly, handle each scenario.

You have to “sell” yourself and your credentials to get clients. And you have to “sell” the other side on why you want to do the deal this way, and why it’s good for both of you.

One of the best things about being a transactional lawyer is that (sometimes) it’s not as adversarial as being a trial lawyer. If two companies want to do something together, there’s usually something good in it for both sides. It sounds cliche, but you really can create a true win-win scenario, where both sides are happy. That can be very satisfying.

The business principals are the “face” of the deal, taking all the credit, within their companies and, in certain deals, in the media. And they deserve it. But the lawyers help make it happen. They are the guys (and women) behind the guy (or woman). Our clients know who we are and how invaluable we are to them. But we like being the “guy (or woman) behind the guy (or woman).” We don’t like the attention from being the face of the deal, but we like the reward of getting it done. We know that the people in-the-know appreciate our role. Read more: Brian Heller, Partner at OutsideGC. How is your life as a lawyer? Updated February 24, 2018. https://www.quora.com/How-is-your-life-as-a-lawyer.

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