Activities by lawyers that may waste time and money and create obstacles to contracts or other business arrangements by seeking terms or clauses to deal with very unlikely or remote possibilities, or seeking promises or commitments from the counterparty that would be difficult or not cost-effective to enforce. In negotiation, over-lawyering is often associated with taking maximalist negotiating positions. Over-lawyering in litigation can consist of spending large amounts of time on extraneous issues or work unlikely to affect the outcome; it is often associated with using very large legal teams.

Over-lawyering does happen, but it is difficult to identify as lawyers, through experience, generally have better information than clients as to the actual magnitude of a given risk. On the other hand, risks are often context specific and this factor should be considered when determining the amount of effort that should be applied to obtain a specific contractual provision. However, the complaint of over-lawyering is often made by individuals who failed to seek legal advice on how to structure a  transaction early enough, or at least prior to agreeing heads of terms; senior managers should therefore be wary of employees and executives who regularly complain about it. See Parking Lot Briefing

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