So maybe Confucius didn’t specifically point the finger at lawyers but it can seem like that sometimes, and as we were putting together our first social investment deal it certainly felt that way at times.
Picture the scene – a small charity intent on doings its first social investment deal (a residential property backed scheme), seeking funding to back a new action learning project. They have already lined up two or three interested investors, the principal players in each are already bought in to the proposal, they can afford the sort of money being talked about and the broad commercial terms are agreed……. ‘that’s fantastic the assembled group agree – now let’s pass it to the lawyers to finalise the exact wording’. Just reading these words is enough to make my heart sink all over again at the memory of it all.
This was a new deal for us and a new deal structure for our investor partners. We had three sets of lawyers involved (ours and two others between the three investors) – whilst each firm bought specific skills and expertise to the table none of them had been involved in a scheme exactly like this before; and by like this I mean specifically social investment – where the deal wasn’t all about the money but also about what the money was enabling the charity to do.