How to Train Your Lawyer

How do you train your lawyer? As easily as you train a dragon. Which means, as labor and employment lawyer Kevin Johnson told a Tampa DisruptHR audience, it takes understanding “why we are the way we are” and “you have to set clear expectations for what you want from us.”

In his presentation, humorously titled, “How To Train Your Lawyer: Getting What You Need From Outside Counsel,” Johnson illustrates the lawyerly personality with examples from the 2010 film about training dragons. Like Hiccup who befriends Toothless, a young dragon, lawyers are at their best when involved early in an issue. Good communication is critical and just as essential is getting them all the information early, not just before some deadline.

“If we can get involved in decisions before you make them, we’re so much happier,” says Johnson. It’s the lawyer equivalent of dragon nip. “We hate to get called in afterwards to deal with somebody’s bad script. We want the opportunity to help write it.”

It’s also a two-way relationship, he adds. Tell your lawyer about your needs. If the advice you get is impractical, work with them on alternatives. Sometimes, Johnson admits, “We get too focused on the legal end of things. And we give you this crazy solution that would never work in real life. Pat us on the nose. Scratch us under the chin and tell us, ‘That’s not going to work.'”

Training a lawyer, like training a dragon, takes work. So Johnson delivers a set of “Training Tips.” They come at the end of his 5 minute presentation, but watch it from the beginning to be as entertained as you will be informed.

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