Matt Levine on the culture of lawyers

 As we've said before, anyone with even a passing interest in business should sign up for Levine's email newsletter. Among his other strengths, his background as a lawyer and an investment banker allows him to supply interesting context like this.

Third, a sort of a sociological point, one that stereotypes far too broadly but has some truth to it. There are two sorts of lawyers in the world, [2]  litigators and deal lawyers. Deal lawyers do things like negotiate merger agreements and debt financing, and make sure that all the funds flows and paperwork are right for the closings of those mergers and financings. One part of their job is to think about how the other side might try to betray them, and write protections against that into the contract. But another big part of the job is to work with the other side in a cooperative way to make everyone happy, so that the deal moves smoothly and feels like, and is, a win for both sides. And then most of the time the deal closes on schedule and everyone really is happy.

Every so often a deal goes wrong, and then the litigators come in to do the lawsuit. The litigators are trying to win: When the deal has become a lawsuit, the possible outcomes are much more zero-sum than they were when it was a deal. Litigators fight. The litigators for one side send the other side discovery requests saying “send us all the documents you’ve written (Read more...)