Monday, March 19, 2012

The Bug of Self Interest

My Legal Professions class is now covering the conflicts of interest. In the usual march through the rules, it is easy for students to draw the inference that avoiding a conflict of interests is just a matter of knowing Rules MR 1.7 to 1.12 and their accompanying comments.  But far and away the biggest danger is the Bug of Self-Interest.  And, I have to break it to my students that none of us enjoys complete immunity from its noxious effects.

In his book,  Advise and Invent:  The Lawyer as Counselor – Strategist (1990), the renowned M&A lawyer, James Freund, has a brilliant cartoon that depicts the Bug of Self-Interest and the many client and career dangers its breeds.   Because it is such a compelling visual -- and made more powerful because it reflects on Freund build his law practice -- I figured it deserved its own spot on the Internet.  [Click to enlarge.  It's worth it.]

Bug of Self Interest

Freund was a remarkably prolific author during his long and distinguished career as a practicing lawyer.  Early in his career, Freund wrote Anatomy of a Merger (1975), which is still in print 37 years after its original publication.  Four years later, he wrote Lawyering: A Realistic Approach to Legal Practice (1979), which to my mind is the single best resource for the understanding how to manage relationships and build a law practice while staying entirely loyal to clients, fellow partners, and one's self.  It goes for $55 used on Amazon -- and its worth it.  

In addition to Advise and Inventother worthwhile Freund books include The Acquistion Mating Dance (1987), Smart Negotiating (1993), and The Smell Test: Stories and Advice for Lawyers (2006).  In addition to his successes, Freund reveals a lot of his own mistakes in these books.  This adds to their value and usefulness.

[Posted by Bill Henderson]

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