It is a given that businesses call upon attorneys when they have questions about significant transactions, compliance issues or legal exposure. Since attorneys’ skill sets vary, the owners or board may reason that hiring the right lawyer for the job is best on a case-by-case basis. Still, there may come a time when outside general counsel is crucial for businesses, whether due to growth, changes in the marketplace, new laws, or increasing the protection of the company.
Reason to retain a firm
The needs of each business vary, but here are reasons for putting a firm on retainer:
- Personalized service: General counsel has a deep understanding of the business and its particular challenges. The client gets up-to-date legal advice from an attorney who understands the company’s needs and goals. Not all legal exposure is apparent to leadership, but having someone to discuss a “small” matter can avoid a much larger problem down the line.
- Compliance: Businesses operate in a constantly changing legal environment, and keeping up with applicable state and federal laws and regulations is difficult. Outside counsel mitigates non-compliance risk and the accompanying legal and financial consequences.
- Transactions: Successful company leadership may be adept at negotiating deals that allow for continued success, but legal support drafts effective contracts, identifies red flags and legal exposure, and generally provides a grounded and knowledgeable perspective.
- Dispute resolution: Not all disputes end up in court. Outside general counsel can represent a company’s interests in a dispute with a business partner, vendor, customer, or employee.
- Efficiency: Business or legal questions sometimes need immediate answers. General counsel can provide a swift response.
- Cost-effective: Hiring in-house general counsel involves a salary and benefits. Money spent on outside counsel pays for personalized business and legal guidance. It also can save time and money shopping for an attorney when one is needed.
Boutique firms can function like your legal department
While large law firms have an impressive array of resources, smaller firms with a handful of skilled attorneys with skill sets in critical areas can function like a client’s legal department. They are agile and focused on the needs of the client. Those with questions can contact this firm.