How do businesses make money? Typically, they identify a need that is not being satisfied or a problem that needs to be solved, and they satisfy/solve it. In other words, challenges create opportunities for businesses – something to be overcome, rather than something that prevents you from achieving your objective. Your business lawyer needs to think this way as well. Creativity not only solves problems – it makes money.
Very often clients come to me with a specific opportunity they want to capitalize upon, but some sort of roadblock or hurdle that is making this difficult. That’s both challenging and exciting. Rather than focus on the problem, I focus on the solution. That’s what your business lawyer needs to do too.
At the outset, remember that many challenges are simply risks, rather than obstacles. Some lawyers can’t tell the difference – those are the ones who went to law school because they “love the law” and enjoy analyzing problems rather than identifying solutions. Before you alter your business course because of an obstacle or problem – make sure that’s what it is rather than merely a business risk that is better evaluated and addressed by you rather than your lawyer.
Assuming there is a real legal challenge, remember that many problems have simple solutions – and it’s the lawyer’s job to find the simplest solution available. That way, the client can get (back) to making money in business rather than solving problems and spending money working with lawyers. However, a lawyer really shows/adds value when he/she solves a particularly complicated problem – the kind of problem that, if not solved, kills the deal.
If your business lawyer has never said things to you like – “What if we did it this way?” “How about approaching it differently?” “I think you’d be better off doing this.” Or “We can’t do that, but we can accomplish your goals another way.” – then it may be time for a change. In other words, if your lawyer is not a creative problem-solver and a calculated risk-taker, then your lawyer is part of the problem itself, rather than part of the solution. Problems cost money; solutions make money.