Reputation and the Value of Lawyers (Symposium: Business Lawyering and Value Creation for Clients)
19 Pages Posted: 1 Nov 2008
WHAT do business lawyers really do? With this question, Professor Ronald Gilson opened his seminal discussion of the role business lawyers play in creating value. He concluded that by serving as transaction cost engineers, as architects of transactional structures that reduce the costs associated with uncertainty, business lawyers provide utility. From this theoretical perspective, Professor Gilson is then able to turn back to actual lawyers' work to explain its function in light of its contribution to the good of reducing transaction costs. My purpose here is to pose again much the same question. I wish also to proffer a theoretical perspective on the role business lawyers play in society and to use that conceptual lens to illuminate the structures that underlie lawyers' work and the organizations in which that work is done. Indeed, I find my theoretical insight among Gilson's examples of value creation by lawyers and his and Professor Mnookin's theories on the dynamics underlying law firm organization. But I have a greater ambition for my inquiry. I am looking for more than the economic value that is delivered in a business lawyer's service or the economic forces that explain law firm compensation schemes. I want to begin to look for the values that make business lawyers who they are and what they might become.
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