How much avocado is too much avocado? A Twitter feed which went viral last week began with a cautionary tale of how even very good lawyers can go too far without proper guidance from their clients.
David Frankel, a partner at venture capital firm Founder Collective, tweeted how, early in his career, his “ambitious, client-focused lawyer” ended up costing him both money and the opportunity to work. investing in a business because the lawyer understood “a host of aggressive provisions and haggled over every minor request from the business owner. The owner eventually chose another investor and rejected Frankel’s offer.
“Nothing my attorney put in the docs was illegal or even immoral, but it was considered offensive,” Frankel tweeted. “It made me feel like I didn’t trust [the owner].”
Frankel continued that the doomed deal served as a formative experience early in his career. He said it taught him how to manage relationships better and how detrimental blindly following the direction of a lawyer can be.
“Trading partners end up trading in dollars and cents, but words and feelings matter a lot,” he tweeted. “We write contracts in legal language, but we eventually translate esoteric terms into human emotions.”
Over 100 people have commented and responded to the thread, with much debate over who is really to blame when a lawyer handles a case incongruously with the wishes of the client.
“Interesting story [and] good advice,” Twitter user Aleksandr Blekh responded. “Although I wouldn’t call this lawyer’s job ‘too well done.’ Because it was part of their job to consider that overly aggressive termsheet terms could easily lead to extreme founder backlash, which, indeed, has happened.
But some users disagreed with the assumption that it was the lawyer who cost Frankel millions of dollars and instead said that a lawyer’s job for a client should never be done. in a vacuum without advice or consultation.
Several users noted that blaming the attorney for failing to make a deal does not accurately portray the lawyer-clinician relationship, and that not making the deal could be complicated by other mitigating factors. Many have noted that new lawyers who lack experience outside of their firm can be the source of missteps.
“Hard to blame the lawyer, especially if he was new”, Sean Silverman responded. “You were probably an important client and the lawyer thought bullying was the right move. He was going to fight for you. But you’re right. It’s more complex than that and bullying isn’t the best way to negotiate.
Twitter user @JohnEOla1, a lawyer, recount an experience from the start of his own career that demonstrated what it is like to be a young lawyer eager to defend zealously on behalf of a client.
“When I was a new lawyer, I worked for a [in-house general counsel,] possibly working on the contractual language of a number of agreements,” he said.. “Frankly, I was fussy and aggressive. [General counsel] called me and gave me great advice: “We are a cost center. The guys (business) are profit centers. Don’t be the guy who ruins a deal if it’s not absolutely necessary.
Frankel himself advised clients to take the time to discuss any concerns or questions with their outside counsel to ensure everyone is on the same page before entering into a negotiation.
“Exactly,” responded Twitter user Luke Marshall, founder and CEO of remote respiratory monitoring company VitalFlo. “As one of my closest mentors once told me, ‘Never let a lawyer negotiate a business deal.'”