Why a Good Lawyer is a Great Sales Tool
By Judi Jarvis Vice President of Legal Affairs , Vantage Hospitality Group, Inc. | January 11, 2015
As with most industries, there are myriad competing interests in the hospitality sector: developer vs. lender; franchisor vs. franchisee; operator vs. guest; owner vs. management company. The list, cynical as it may be, goes on. But there is one thing on which nearly all business people agree, and that unifies even the most divided of parties: lawyers kill deals. As a profession, we may have earned that reputation through negative comments about proposed transactions; advice based on theory and not practice; and a failure to put our clients ahead of ourselves. A good lawyer in the hands of a smart client, however, not only avoids killing deals but can be one of your best sales tools.
The main role of a lawyer is to be a problem-solver. And yet there is a broad perception that lawyers create more problems than we solve. In part, this is because we are trained to argue; we are trained to poke holes in other people's arguments or business plans; and we have been known to think we know more than our clients. Because we often are not consulted until something has gone wrong or needs to be fixed, many of us see deals, and people, at their worst.
"The good lawyer is the great salesman"
― Janet Reno
Politics aside, there are some things you can do to help your lawyer not only solve your problems but become a great sales tool for your business.
1. Make Sure Your Lawyer Understands Your Business
Your lawyer may know the "law" as it pertains to your hospitality business, but not your business. As general counsel for a large, diverse hotel company, for me this has meant learning about the relationship between franchisors and franchisees; the demands of a management company; the unique aspects of brokering insurance for hotels; and the pressures of financing hotel development projects. It has meant thinking like a business person before thinking as a lawyer, while recognizing that my contribution to the enterprise must be as a lawyer first and a business person second.