First of all, let me start by saying there are many excellent lawyers who do great jobs. However, there are some basic facts and issues that often prevent the satisfactory conclusion of a business negotiation BECAUSE lawyers are involved.
Today we experienced just such a situation. The mortgage holder of a building owned by my client was accelerating and demanding payoff because the mortgagee was in default.
We were attempting to negotiate a workout with the mortgage holder reducing the payment for six months. It was a very modest adjustment for a short time period and should have been easy to resolve.
After thousands of dollars of legal fees and a stalemate with the threat of foreclosure looming, which would have been a disaster for both the mortgagor and mortgagee, I begged the lawyer repeatedly to arrange a face to face meeting between her clients and mine to work out their issues and resolve the issue. She was resistant.
The meeting was repeatedly rejected by the lawyer.
Finally in a fit of frustration, the mortgage holder called my client, unaware we had been asking for a meeting and said he would be delighted to meet, they met over coffee and he disclosed the clear fact that he had significant misinformation or had never been told specific information which was important for him to evaluate our request to modify the mortgage.
All he knew was my client wanted a reduced payment which the lawyer had rejected.
It took a few hours and everything was cleared up and resolved with a handshake deal and two happy clients…without the help and or interference of the lawyer.
A lawyer’s place is to handle the legal system and legal issues.
Business issues are best handled between the business people doing business. Having a lawyer interpret the story and negotiate the deal with another lawyer leaving the two businessmen out of the loop is counterproductive and frequently does not work.
Business owners must do business directly, face to face, able to settle their differences and discuss a compromise.
They certainly can be advised by lawyers, but business should be done between the active players, the business owners or whoever is responsible for the decision and its outcome.
We do not need lawyers to do this. Lawyers act as interpreters, filters and can frequently prevent a positive conclusion by inadvertently denying the business person important information, even if done without such intent.
They frequently are unable to exchange the information required.
Simply stated there are a time and place for lawyer intervention, but I strongly recommend the business person do business directly and without the legal interpreter.
It works much more effectively when businessmen deal with each other.