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Desert Empire Group

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Desert Empire Group, LLC, J. David John, Partner, August 2009

Desert Empire Group, LLC is a private equity group that specializes in representing professional athletes and sporting event owners and management companies.


Q:  If you think about your best relationships with outside counsel over time, what are three important things other lawyers could learn from them?       
A:  Our best relationships yield three main benefits: 1) the most current information on structuring transactions from both a tax and liability perspective 2) anticipation of issues not foreseen by us and often times finding the appropriate attorney in a foreign country or outside market  3) it is very hard to quantify but our best attorneys have great judgment and while this sounds nebulous it enhances the value of #1 above as we look for a distinct opinion on a variety of issues rather than just presenting the options.

Q:  And, of course, the follow-up: what are the top three things that lawyers could learn from your least successful relationships with outside counsel over the years? 
A:  1) Be honest about capabilities of your firm.  We have had two firms which have done IP work for us and neither one should have been in that field.  All of the work was redone by other firms. 2) It sounds simplistic but many attorneys will recommend a particular transaction rather than trying to figure out how to accomplish our goals.  The best attorneys can take a high level view of a transaction and suggest how to close.

Q:  What’s the smartest thing a lawyer or a law firm has ever done for you outside of doing great legal work?
A:  On several occasions outside counsel has taken a perspective on just getting a transaction completed and acted proactively on our behalf.  More specifically they have been able to suggest reputable partners, vendors, and financiers through other relationships.  This has been very fruitful even though it has been outside the realm of legal work. It also shows a deep understanding of the business and transaction.

Q:  Are there any client service or business development trends you’re seeing among law firms that you think are headed in the right direction?
A:  We currently only use 2 firms so we are not necessarily exposed to any broad trends.

Q:  Have you ever fired a major provider of legal services or have you ever had internal suggestions that you should fire a major provider?
A:  Yes

Q:  Would it have been helpful if somebody other than the relationship partner proactively requested your feedback and then acted on it, perhaps annually? 
A:  Yes, we never heard from anyone except for the attorney whom we felt was not performing.  We did not consider it appropriate to discuss this with him.  This problem seems to be much worse with larger firms.


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