I am a business litigator, handling disputes for corporate clients involving B2B disputes of almost any kind, claims involving legacy liabilities and product liability claims. It has been the same for my entire career.
How has your practice evolved in the last few years?
The evolution over the past few years has been one of approach. Economic pressure on clients has created economic pressure on lawyers and firms to a degree not experienced since I started practicing in 1982. As a result, lawyers rarely have the opportunity to investigate every issue and turn over every stone. The decisions about what to do and, more importantly, what not to do involve degrees of risk to the client. Clients in turn expect their lawyers to make informed business recommendations about these risk issues. Many lawyers refuse to do so or are not comfortable doing so.
If you could offer one piece of advice for young lawyers, what would it be?
If it’s not too late, go back to business school. I say that only partially tongue-in-cheek. For lawyers who intend to represent businesses, it is critical to understand business, from accounting issues to HR to finance to operations. At the same time, it is critical to understand the law business as well, and how it has to operate much more efficiently than ever before. Lawyers need to develop the wherewithal to operate in a world of Six Sigma, Lean, Kaizen and other disciplines utilized in the business world and to learn to apply these disciplines without losing the creativity and judgment lawyers have traditionally utilized.
What is the one technological device you could not function without daily?
My iPad. Because of its size, it frequently allows me to travel without a computer, allows me to handle email wherever and whenever and the apps meet almost every business need I have.
How has civility made a difference in your practice of law?
Personal relationships help lawyers represent clients more effectively and more cost-effectively. Discovery disputes are one of the most wasteful things in litigation, and many can be resolved if people put their minds to it and try to understand what the other person needs. Most cases resolve. Resolution occurs once people believe they aren’t being taken advantage of, for example, believing there isn’t a smoking gun that is being withheld on some nebulous grounds. I recently handled a case where discovery disputes were created and intensified when matters were being handled by email, but when the parties got in the same room and just talked about the case, the issues tended to go away or be scaled back significantly.
What do you do for fun?
I am a Sudoku addict–I play almost every day. I have 4 kids and 3 dogs and providing each attention is a big part of life. I enjoy studying business practices to see how they can improve our legal practice at Valorem. I love to write and just finished my second book on alternative fees, which is being published by the ABA. I also write a column for the ABA Law Journal Online. Movie night with my wife, time with my friends.
Patrick J. Lamb has a robust legal career representing businesses and corporate clients. Mr. Lamb is active in the Chicago legal community and was honored as an Illinois SuperLawyer from 2005-2013. Mr. Lamb is also an active blogger and author, you can read his full bio here.