Law & Taxation mentor Richard S. Morse Jr. responds:
Obviously, a lawyer should have expertise and experience first and foremost. After that, a lawyer needs a good mix of legal and business judgment. There are many lawyers who are very good lawyers in a technical sense but aren't very good at giving concrete advice and realistic recommendations. Much of what a lawyer does in counseling management of a fast-growth company is to offer advice. Sure, many of the issues have a legal component, but a lot of it has to do with experience in how to structure financings, how to negotiate license agreements or acquisitions, how to deal with board issues, how to deal with recalcitrant employees, and the like. And that requires sound business sense.
In addition, if the CEO doesn't have confidence in or enjoy working with his or her legal partner, the CEO should find a new lawyer. But the CEO and the lawyer should never forget that the counsel represents the corporate entity and not any constituency. The lawyer must be independent of management and the investors, and not be beholden to either group.
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