You would say that

From The Jolly Contrarian
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In which the curmudgeonly old sod puts the world to rights.
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A nascent theory of professional legal practice.

A private practitioner’s greatest fear is a bright-line. You can’t do anything with a bright line: it just sits there, unambiguously demarcating boundaries, dispassionately indicating what is in and what is out.

You can’t vacillate around it. There are no penumbras, no degrees of shade, no room for pause, for careful contemplation of remote but feasible phantoms loitering in dark recesses. You’re either one side or the other.

But here is the thing: lawyers like to vacillate. That is why they turn up. Any opportunity to to blur the edges of an old white line is an opportunity to extemporise on a client’s dime whilst taking little risk and subjecting oneself to no criticism. It is like playing Qix if you can box the Qix into the other half of the grid.

There is an art, therefore, to casually injecting just enough peripheral doubt into matters that — to be on the safe side — a cautious client will acquiesce with your suggestion that you undertake some extra work.

What sort of in-house counsel would gainsay her own adviser? That strikes against the heart of the relationship. That is to poke one’s own buttress, as it were, above the battlement. What kind of inhouse lawyer does that? Who would reject legal advice to take a bit more precaution?

Who ever got fired for hiring IBM?

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