Column by Carolina Menichetti –La Tercera Newspaper, Pulso
At the beginning of year 2000 the career that should be followed by corporate lawyers in traditional law firms was defined: after university and a couple of years working, they should choose to study an LLM, preferably abroad, to deepen contents, strengthen networks and develop a specialty.
Lawyers not choosing to follow the ‘traditional’ way and that chose an MBA or other master in business, administration or finance were several times branded as ‘lawyers who want to abandon codes’, or ‘whose vocation was not clear’ or simply ‘who want to dedicate themselves to business’, with a clear negative bias .
20 year later, the corporate lawyer profession has radically changed. In particular, what the client expect from the lawyer. Incorporation of technology, the access to legal knowledge and the greater complexity of business has caused that for lawyers being “experts in law” in no longer sufficient, it is not enough.
Identifying the risks and say what can and cannot be done from a legal point of view is no longer enough. World of business has become more complex and require integral solutions. Clients need lawyers speaking their same language, understanding their business in depth and contributing value with practical and efficient solutions going beyond the legal aspect.
A business lawyer today has to manage concepts that are not taught by undergraduate studies (although some universities have started to introduce accounting and finance courses for lawyers). Fair market value, Dividend Yield, IFRS, PPP, Cash on cash and other similar terms are usually listened in board of directors or business meetings. However, for many lawyers these are cryptic terms that they did not listened at universities and that are basic for highly sophisticated business legal advice.
The line between legal and business advice has become increasingly blurred, which forces us to evolve hand in hand with the new economy in which clients develop, with a vision starting in legal training, but focused on commercial and finance matters. In the future this trend will sharpen, and clients expect and require that lawyers are capable to meet their needs.