I have had a few successes for clients recently that have made me think about what success means for a business lawyer and how I achieve it.

Success in my work means that my conduct brings about a client’s desired outcome. As a business lawyer, results are achieved by understanding and using leverage appropriately.

For me, it starts with talking with my client to get a complete understanding of the facts.

The science of evaluating leverage in my work includes analyzing the relevant legal issues, without bias. I read the related agreements, consider the applicable law, and assess the worst case scenario… if push comes to shove, could we enforce our interpretation in court. My evaluation is colored by knowledge gained in over 25 years as a business lawyer.

The art is in maneuvering the inevitable shades of gray. I make a judgment of the most likely legal interpretations, contemplate the possible motivation and perspectives of the parties, and search for a “fair result” to the controversy. In my experience “fair results” are the sweet spot for resolving matters efficiently. In evaluating how best to proceed, I contemplate what could encourage a party to act as my client would like. I think creatively about our alternatives.

I provide my client recommended action steps and alternatives. The client makes the ultimate call. But, as a practice I never make a threat unless I am willing to act on it, and I try only to use as much leverage as necessary. The amount and pace of proceeding can show a party’s hand.

I have found that my clients and I tend to see the world in the same way and share the same ethics. We like each other. A fair and efficient result to a legal controversy is a win, and gets them back to business.