That’s the provocative question Professor Stephen Bainbridge poses in his TCS Daily Column. We say: Don’t give the clients any ideas.
(Of course, if the dying lawyer writhes on the floor in agony for six minutes before expiring, expect to get billed for that tenth of an hour.)
Professor Bainbridge asks this rhetorical question: “[W]hy does anybody hire transactional lawyers?” After all, frequently they “giv[e] advice that could be given by other professionals.” Plus, they’re annoying. And expensive.
He outlines two competing hypotheses for explaining the work of corporate lawyers: the “Pie Division Role” and the “Pie Expansion Role.” Under the former, which takes a zero-sum view of the world, lawyers try to maximize the gains of their own client. Under the latter, which does not take a zero-sum view, “the lawyer makes everybody better off by increasing the size of the pie.”
Bainbridge argues that training of transactional lawyers should focus more on the “Pie Expansion” model. To demonstrate the limitations of the “Pie Division” role, he gives this example:
You and a friend go out to eat. You decide to share a pizza, so you need to agree on its division. Would you hire somebody to negotiate a division of the pizza? Especially if they were going to take one of your slices as their fee?
But isn’t this exactly what corporate lawyers do — and how they earn their seven-figure paydays?
We offer our own, somewhat cynical take on Professor Bainbridge’s pizza example, after the jump.