Be a Better Business Lawyer
By Steve Mayer
Steve Mayer co-chairs the Business Law Section’s Young Lawyer Forum. He practices at Mayer & Glassman Law Corp. in Los Angeles and can be reached at for more information.
As a new lawyer you likely were relieved, proud, and ready to test the limits of the Constitution like no other lawyer before you.
Until your first day on the job.
When your supervising partner directs you to incorporate a new company for an important technology client anxious to begin pre-holiday production and distribution of its new software product, your task includes preparing and filing the articles of incorporation, and drafting bylaws, key personnel employment contracts, and licensing and distribution agreements. Then reality
quickly hits.
In law school, future business lawyers are educated in contracts by studying cases of their breach, not by actually preparing one. You learn business law by studying cases on such topics as shareholder derivative actions, breach of officer duties, blue sky law violations, and partnership disputes, without ever learning how to form these businesses or the critical contracts to keep them operating before they are forced into bankruptcy or costly litigation.
It is not long before you realize that your legal education did not end when you graduated law school. It just began. Continued education and practical training are critical to your development and success.
The extent of practical training depends on many factors, including the quantity and quality of training offered by your firm, the patience of partners and supervising associates, your available time to attend seminars and the high cost of developing yourself piecemeal (a luncheon this week, a mixer the next, and another seminar soon thereafter). Sometimes your best resource is your network of friends at other firms whom you can call with a question without alerting your firm that you needed help.
Below are tips to help you remain current on recent developments in your practice area (from a recent program of the Section of Business Law’s Young Lawyer Forum):
• Don’t underestimate the value of continuing legal education
• Pay attention during CLE programs and focus on identifying potential business solutions and “best practices” your clients can implement
• Provide a checklist summary of your CLE knowledge to share with clients and post on your firm’s Web site
• Remember, seminars and conferences provide opportunities to learn a cutting edge approach and to generate new business