Tuesday, February 8, 2011
In his newsletter for Fox Professional Development, Charles Fox offers five proposals for firms needing to train new attorneys in transactional lawyering. Here is a summary.
1.Develop a training curriculum that provides all first-year transactional associates — regardless of practice area — with the basic knowledge and skills that your firm considers to be most important. Some examples of the kind of subjects that might be covered are (a) how entities are created and used in transactions, (b) how contracts are structured, negotiated, and drafted, and (c) the rationale and methodology of conducting due diligence. Poll the partners on what should be included in this curriculum.
2.Encourage your internal trainers not to overestimate the level of practical understanding that first-year lawyers have when they start. Experienced lawyers often forget how little they knew when they started. As a result, it is not unusual for those training junior lawyers to assume a level of
3.Transactional lawyers are business lawyers and should be trained accordingly. To be successful, deal lawyers must understand how businesses work and must be able to speak the language of business. As a result, good training in financial literacy — basic accounting and the reading of financial statements — is absolutely essential.
4.Encourage day-to-day training on how contracts work. Most law school graduates have never seen a real contract.
5.Provide cross-training among the different transactional practice groups. A good transactional lawyer does not have tunnel vision. Regardless of the degree of expertise associates have in their specific practice areas, without a grasp of how other transactions work they will never reach their full potential as trusted advisors to clients and as successful business originators.