Outside General Counsel: Absolutely More than a Temporary Fix!
It might be as simple (or as complex) as a document production that makes you recognize the problem. Sure, you have a fantastic in-house attorney who gives legal advice concerning daily activities. However, when it comes to more in-depth work, being solo just doesn’t necessarily work. Have you considered outside general counsel as a possible solution?
Understandably, the decision to retain outside general counsel requires some thought. For one, you’ve heard some businesses just hire temporary attorneys for individual assignments. Of course, one of the problems is bringing a temp up to speed and hoping for a consistent work product. Meanwhile, the thought of expanding your company’s law department sounds cost-prohibitive.
The truth is that retaining outside general counsel is both a pragmatic and affordable solution. In fact, it works in a number of settings. If your company does not have an in-house legal team, outside general counsel gives you access to experienced legal advice.
Meanwhile, if you are part of a law department, outside general counsel represents a tremendous benefit to you. For one, you can bounce off ideas with another lawyer who shares your same interests. Additionally, you can pass on assignments that may be outside your legal experience.
How Outside General Legal Counsel Works
All things considered, some critical factors go into the selection of outside general counsel. Before you interview potential candidates for the role, you might want to look into their law firm’s practice areas. At the very least, outside general counsel needs experience in:
- Drafting and Reviewing Contracts, such as Sales and Employment Agreements
- Commercial Leasing Agreements
- Commercial Litigation
- Compliance Analysis and Research
- Mergers and Acquisitions
- Business Transactional Law
Depending on the needs of your company, you determine the role of outside general counsel. Do you need assistance with routine work? Or, will you only need legal advice on select assignments?
Some companies debate on whether it is more cost effective to just retain legal representation on an as-needed basis. Although that can work, there are some considerations.
First, if you work with the same firm for all of your needs, you should be able to count on consistency. Your point of contact remains the same. You can use outside general counsel as overflow attorneys or overall general counsel.
The American Bar Association has put together an informative piece on working effectively with outside counsel. We suggest referencing this checklist for some valuable guidelines.