Lawyers Need to be Business Partners

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Legal advice doesn't happen in a vacuum. That's why in-house counsel and outside counsel need to understand business if they're to help their corporate clients thrive. This is a lesson many law firm attorneys have a difficult time with. They're accustomed to being reactive -- coming in after something's already hit the fan, and trying to clean up the mess.

But if you want to truly valuable to corporations, then you need to do more than that. You need to understand your clients' business models, and understand how the laws and regulations (and proposed laws and regulations) impact every aspect of those businesses. You need to be a partner in moving the business forward, not just cleaning wounds and putting on bandages. As Ralph Levy, a lawyer in Dickinson Wright's Nashville office and former GC and corporate vice president, says in "Beyond the letter of the law: Why business acumen matters for outside counsel / Helping the business flourish – not just keeping it out of trouble – is part of the job description": 

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Why does all this matter?

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Understanding that difference makes you a more successful lawyer--inside or outside your corporate client.