A commentary on Mike Monteiro’s “Fuck you pay me” video

January 5, 2014 at 9:59 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

One of my entrepreneurship buddies turned me on to this video:

The video has (mostly) good advice, but it leaves out something very important: the problem of incentive bias in paid advice. That is, there’s a huge unconscious incentive for attorneys to NOT to embrace a quick-and-easy way of doing things. Technically, lawyers are supposed to be professional and act on the best interest of the client, but in the real world this is not often the case. The thing is is that since it’s a bias, the attorney doesn’t know realize it and fools himself into thinking his advice is more objective than it really is. Warren Buffet said it best: “always be wary of advice when it’s good for the adviser”

Another problem that this video conveniently left out is that lawyers tend to have “man with a hammer” syndrome. That is, if the only tool you have is a hammer, then you approach every problem as if it were a nail. Often times, alternative ways of resolving the dispute are cheaper and more effective than the legal route. But the more involved a lawyer gets into his profession the less likely he’s willing to try out other ideas – even if it’s cheaper and more effective. The attorney simply doesn’t “see it that way”. So lawyers tend to overprescribe, which gets expensive very quickly.

My criticism of the video is that it places too much emphasis on problem fixing over problem avoidance (which is much more valuable). You have to ask yourself which is preferable: putting yourself in a position where legal action is likely and then “fixed” by the “invaluable attorney” or never seeing the bad situation in the first place?

Remember: silent evidence does not draw your attention!

A great book on resolving disputes over the tradition adversarial (lawyer) method is Getting to Yes by Roger Fisher, William Ury and Bruce Patton. I might do another blog post on it. You can literally cut your need for attorneys by 90% by following the principles in this book.

Oh, and before you give me the straw man response of “oh, so you don’t need attorneys at all”, I’m not necessarily saying that. All I’m saying attorney’s recommendation is heavily heavily biased towards needless litigation.

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