As general counsel for nearly 16 years with both publicly- and privately-held companies, I have developed a clear philosophy on what I need from outside counsel, and it is this: free legal services.

To law firms, I would say this: Don’t sweat the small stuff, and it’s NOT all small stuff (contrary to the advice provided in a 1998 book by Richard Carlson, “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff and It’s All Small Stuff”). There is plenty of Big Stuff, the business-critical work that requires specialized expertise, and that’s the billable work law firms are after. But to get that work, they should build relationships with their clients by handling the Small Stuff for free.

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