Modern business lawyers skills are often understood to be and sold as the ability to produce “standard documents” at lower costs. While a certain level of standardisation of documents is certainly beneficial and it is essential for big companies doing frequent document-intensive transactions, it certainly does not eliminate the need for tailored advice.
Advising a client on a transaction, a negotiation or a situation is a completely different skill to the production of standard documents. Advising a client will also include drafting documents and amending documents produced by another party, but it does not and should not end there. The ability to give advice – sound, experienced, sensible adviced tailored to the client’s situation and the client’s objectives and priorities (which may change over time and are not often immediately understandable) is a core skill of a good lawyer, a real competency which is often underestimated.
Ultimately, a good lawyer will also be able to discuss with a client when proceeding with a business transaction does not meet that client’s objectives or whether a judicial strategy – for example in family dispute – may ultimately be counterproductive in pursuing the real goals of the client.
Clients on the other hand should consider which kind of assistance they may need and what kind of lawyer they wish to hire. They should also consider whether they are open to receiving advice as unconsciously they might not realize they are instead seeking validation for their own thought processes. Standard document production is indeed a portion of the story, but it is not the whole story.
See also: Welcome AI, but Keep the Human Element
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