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Portrait of a Business Generalist

- Abstract

SUCCESSFUL corporate lawyers like to be described these days as “generalists.” This new term has a touch of magic for them-it seems to catch the essence of their drastically changed role in shepherding money and men of money through the green pastures of the new American property system. The word is not derived from any military analogy, but comes directly from “general” -meaning not specific or particular. We have come so far along the road of specialization and “expertise” that it is now a new and somehow different thing not to be an expert. The role I speak of is really that of a pseudo-non-expert, since the lawyer-as-generalist must be quite currently knowledgeable about tax law, corporate law, the securities market, and what’s going on around town and in Washington. He is in fact quite expert about the broadest matters affecting the fortunes of men and corporations; but his expertness is not attuned primarily to spec- ificities. So he is a generalist-one of the more significant forces creating and caring for our managerial system. He kind of manages the managers, with their permission.

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