Sometimes the best lawyers are the ones who understand human nature. This trait is very useful in representing high-profile clients in business or politics, or those who "have money," and even known figures in the entertainment industries. It is useful, and those clients need that skill, because they are constantly being surrounded and besieged by users, hangers-on and parasites who will often enable bad habits, facilitate exploitation and eventually leave some very successful people very broke.
That is the skill which allows you to see things through the eyes of your adversary. That's true whether you're negotiating, or fighting out something (which is a tactic that is part of negotiating). It's why the legal process and especially litigation is described as adversarial. It also explains why mature lawyers must be able to assert themselves. Shrinking violets put their clients, and themselves, in harm's way, and there are many lawyers who simply are ill-suited to be advocates and representatives for anyone else.
If you are someone who is developing a profile, who is becoming "known," who is starting to have a problem walking in midtown Manhattan without being recognized and stopped, here are some of the things you need:
1. Get independent advisers who answer only to you, not to your inner circle. The inner circle you think is protecting you might actually be the source of your problems.
2. The confidential advice given to you by your advisers should always stay between you and your advisers. See point 1.
3. Have an audit done. Never be afraid to check and test those around you. You might be afraid of what you'll discover, but if you're that afraid now, there is probably a reason. Trust your gut.
4. Never confuse employees with friends. There are plenty of people who will pretend, for months and for years, that they are your friends. Some may even keep up this ruse through the first few years of marriage. But the common denominator that almost never fails is the test of adversity. When the candy train stops, see how quickly these hangers-on bolt for the door. The true test of friendship is who sticks with you when you have nothing, or simply if you shut the spigot. Again, see point 1.
Eric Dixon is a New York lawyer, advisor and strategist who runs the website http://www.NYBusinessCounsel.com and can be reached at EDixon@NYBusinessCounsel.com.