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How to use ‘strategic lawyering’ to ward off business problems

Lance P. Maiss

“Strategic lawyering” sounds kind of strange. Isn’t lawyering already strategic? Well, yes and no. A lawyer will generally provide advice and counsel regarding the application of law to a particular issue. After all, lawyers are professional problem-solvers. However, strategic lawyering really involves utilizing the lawyer before the negotiations, dispute, or other event has taken place, or even afterwards, focusing on the company’s goals its big picture.

Here are three examples of a strategic lawyer bringing added benefit to a client:

1. A business may seek to expand its product line and do so before understanding the legal consequences involved, only focusing on what such a move may bring to the bottom line. A strategic lawyer involved in the process at its initial stages may weigh in on potential legal and regulatory pitfalls, perhaps even advising a course of action that is different than what the client was initially pursuing.

2. Asked to pursue new patents or trademarks, rather than simply following the client’s request, a strategic lawyer may perhaps advise the client to seek a license or some other business arrangement with owners of existing patents or trademarks as a better alternative, based upon the true goals of the client.

3. Finally, a client may have suffered from litigation that was damaging to the company. The lawyer is typically hired to address the dispute and “put out the fire.” However, after the conclusion of the litigation, win or lose, a strategic lawyer may work with a client to understand why the litigation arose in the first place and strategize how to avoid similar litigation in the future.

Although in-house attorneys handle the types of issues set forth above, many companies don’t have the luxury of an in-house attorney, or for those that do, still find that someone on the outside is necessary to bring added perspective to the company’s particular situation. In doing so, more times than not, the business client will need an attorney to take off the adversarial hat purchased from law school and be that different kind of problem-solver, much like a trusted business advisor. a strategic lawyer may just be the difference in successfully navigating this increasingly complicated economy.

Thus, to bring true value to a company or business, lawyering cannot just be about providing quality legal analysis and documents. It must be more than that. Strategic lawyering addresses the big picture how the law can assist the company’s overall business strategy, gain a competitive position, avoid, or even eliminate, risk, and execute its mission statement. It may just be the difference to successfully navigate this increasingly complicated economy.

Lance P. Maiss is an attorney and lobbyist with Maiss Law Group Ltd. in Reno. Contact him at 775-657-8160 or lance@maisslawgroup.com.


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