Post #900 – October 21, 2021

Why Did Lawyers Ever Adopt the “Transactional” Label?

I’d heard this a number of times over the years from clients but was struck by an article authored by the editor of strategy+ business (PwC) wherein he states that “Transactional has become something of a DIRTY WORD in the business world.  It suggests a short-term, one-off mindset and a commoditized approach to value.  Nobody wants transactional relationships.” 

Meanwhile if we search “transactional lawyer” we get over 200,000 Google results and are informed that “transactional lawyer is also known as a business lawyer, and transactional lawyers counsel individuals and organizations on the legal issues generated by their business dealings.”  We are even informed that as a young lawyer “if you are not sure you want the life or work style of a litigator, then maybe you should consider the practice area of transitional law.”  So I guess it is a practice area, the one that in the old days, used to be called Corporate or Business.

What Does the Word “Transactional” Really Mean?

A true transactional undertaking is built upon an expectation for reciprocation – and by its definition it suggests strongly that there is absolutely NO interest in building a relationship or seeking to collaborate on any long-term basis.  Both individuals are concerned only with how they will each benefit.  Individuals are self-serving, such that the lawyer wants to ensure that they can get as much money as possible for a set amount of work in return.  Within any transactional undertaking, bonds are broken the moment one party does not hold up their end.  Therefore, these undertakings tend to be highly fragile.

Now is that really the impression your firm wants to project?  And how do you label yourselves Transactional Attorneys while also claiming to be obsessed with delivering value and client service which tends to be RELATIONSHIP driven.

A true collaborative relationship is meant to be long term where both parties are willing to make sacrifices for the sake of their bond.  They are both concerned with the perspective, interests, and needs of the other party and have a commitment to each other’s success.  To a certain extent, individuals are willing to give without expecting anything in return.  This helps to build a strong longer-lasting attachment that is difficult to break. 

If we really care what client’s think, and accept that the term “transactional” may be undignified, maybe we need to expunge this term from our collective vocabulary.  WHAT DO YOU THINK?

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