Can Your Lawyer Really be “Full Service?”

Lawyers often like to say they’re “full service” – frequently right after they’ve just told you about their specialized area(s) of expertise.  I think this begs the question – can a lawyer really be full service; and if so, can that same lawyer really have any special expertise?  After all, have you ever noticed how many lawyers’ bios say they engage in “general practice, including but not limited to . . .” and then list every possible substantive legal expertise you’ve heard of and many you haven’t.  What does that mean?

I think the answer to both of these questions is yes, BUT only if your lawyer is part of a firm that practices with a team approach with talented colleagues having multiple specialties.  After all, no one person can be an expert at everything, but as a client with a business to run – where risks and opportunities aren’t neatly labeled as “corporate,” “securities,” “real estate,” or “intellectual property” – I want to know that my lawyer and my law firm not only know and understand all aspects of my specific business and strategies, but also that they fully know and understand the law as it applies to my business.  I don’t want to hire a corporate lawyer to form my company, a securities lawyer to help me raise money, and a real estate lawyer to help me purchase my office building.  I want to hire a “full service” law firm that can capably handle all of these matters, and can provide me with a proactive and strategic approach – not just because they have expertise in all of the relevant substantive legal areas, but because my lead attorney makes sure the entire client service team fully understands me and my company as a result of handling all of my legal needs for the life of my company.

Strategic Relationships – Connections and Networks Matter

One of the most important determinants of success for a business is its ability to think and act strategically and establish strategic relationships. This is true in product development, sales and marketing, distribution, financing, joint ventures, etc. It should also be true in establishing relationships with consultants and service providers like lawyers. 

Your lawyer, for example, should bring more value to your business than general legal expertise.  After all, all licensed Iowa lawyers went to an accredited law school, and those who work at the larger respected firms probably got good grades and almost certainly have legal expertise – even specialized expertise. So what more can or should they bring to the table? 

In addition to expertise, your lawyer (and hopefully your other consultants) should provide an innovative problem solving approach, a can-do attitude, a stellar work ethic, AND a network of connections that can provide additional resources and value to your company.  In my case, those connections and relationships are close and personal and include accountants, bankers, investment bankers, placement agents, business brokers, venture capitalists, private equity groups, angel investors, technologists, trade associations, legislators, agency heads, economic developers, PR consultants and others, including any and all of my clients. Any time I believe an introduction or referral to one of the people or companies in my network will benefit someone else in my network, I make that connection. After all, this is Iowa– if you have character, integrity and professional talent, it’s easy to build a valuable network for your benefit AND for the benefit of your customers and clients – why not “pay it forward” and multiply the value of your network by sharing it with others. In the end, what goes around comes around.

If my network or connections can ever be useful to you, please feel free to contact me.  It’s just another example of the thinking behind BizB4Law.