DATA & LAW
We had the rare opportunity to interview Bruce Andelson (ok, he’s my Dad - but he’s still really busy) on data in the legal profession, specifically in the mergers and acquisitions space. Bruce Andelson is a partner at Greenberg Glusker in Century City and has been practicing corporate law for more than 30 years. Some of his most well-known cases include: representing in negotiations with the Russian government the first individual, who was not sponsored by a government, to fly into space to the International Space Station and representing a ground-breaking apparel company in its sale for almost a billion dollars. He credits his successful career to always promptly returning client calls, being honest and upfront with clients and listening to what clients say they want and need, rather than thinking about what they should want and need.
SMK: Why do you think data is so under-utilized in the legal profession?
BA: Most lawyers are very uncomfortable with data and outside of their firm’s financial statements and the financial performance of each lawyer, do not understand data. Lawyers, very correctly, usually think of law as a profession, not a business. It is a profession and we should approach our work with the highest ethical standards, but law today is also a business and lawyers should act like business people.
SMK: Where do you think lawyers could most benefit from using data?
BA: Understanding the costs and benefits of taking,or refrain from taking ,certain actions. For example, in litigation, how much should it cost to make a certain motion, what are the chances it will succeed and how do you balance the risk and reward. In the corporate area, how much should you fight to include a particular provision in an agreement? Does this provision often have real world consequences? Ever? never?
SMK: Do you ever use data in your practice?
BA: I wish I used it more. Generally I go by my intuition and experience, but not hard data.
SMK: How often is data consulted when reviewing a valuation of a company in an M&A deal?
BA: Lawyers do not typically have anything to do with the valuation but do have to review them. Good valuation firms make extensive use of data and bad ones either do not or mangle it. A good lawyer learns to tell the difference between the two.