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Commodity legal work is, nonetheless, that which is most important to the business

Ironically, what lawyers in companies view as commodity, routine work – just another contract, yet again a lease, here we go with another non-disclosure agreement, the fifth agreement of this kind this week – embodies in fact the life blood of the company. Every day the company buys what it needs, produces what it can, and sells as much as possible. All those quotidian transactions need to take place as smoothly as possible and with legal work kept to a minimum. A fair amount of the “legal” work takes occurs without a lawyer and without a hitch; most of the rest is plain vanilla, legal blocking and tackling.

What lawyers are drawn to are legal issues peripheral to the business’ operations, indeed the legal issues that business managers wish would not arise: the lawsuit, government investigation, patent infringement claim, sale of a division, issuance of stock, or termination of an employee.

The closer to the business the legal work is, therefore, the more urgent the need to create standard processes and to streamline commodity legal work, if do any legal work at all. Farther away from the heart of the business are the specialized legal problems that create frisson for the lawyer, but no joy for the executive.