Tips for Choosing an Outside General Counsel for Your Business

Seeking legal services for your business generally starts when the business is first formed. At first, most companies just need legal assistance sporadically as they bring on their first employee, navigate various contracts, and so on, but as your company grows, so do your legal needs. Eventually, there comes a time when the volume or complexity of a company’s requirements becomes a burden best handled by handing it over to a dedicated legal team.

Virtually all major organizations have in-house counsel, and it is easy to see why. This team can review contracts, manage disputes and lawsuits, ensure compliance, and handle any other routine legal matters as well. Moreover, in-house attorneys have a breadth and depth of knowledge about the business that can’t be replicated by an outside firm with numerous other clients. That said, it’s quite expensive to maintain a full-time attorney on staff. For companies that aren’t ready to shoulder such an expense, hiring outside general counsel is a smart alternative. 

General counsel services generally require maintaining a retainer with an attorney, who is then on call to handle whatever legal needs you may have whenever you need them to do so. Aside from the convenience that comes with assigning your legal tasks to someone else who is qualified to handle them, hiring a general counsel attorney can approximate the benefits of in-house counsel as well. A general counsel attorney will have other clients, of course, but by working with you consistently over time, they can develop a solid understanding of your enterprise, allowing them to provide better advice tailored specifically to you and your business quickly and efficiently.

If your business has grown to the point where you need regular legal assistance, it might be time to hire outside general counsel. Here are some tips for finding a good fit.

Ask What Services are Provided

There are many different types of legal services that businesses may need. Your specific requirements may be quite a bit different than those of another company, so you want to make sure that the attorney you hire is able to provide the specific services that you require. For example, if you are a contractor who has to manage licensing requirements, your needs are going to be very different from those of a software developer trying to sort out stock option offerings.

Some common types of services that you may need include contract reviews, regulatory compliance, employment advice, customer privacy and conduct policies, copyright and trademark enforcement, representation in litigation, and more. If you aren’t sure what type of legal services you might need, scheduling a consultation with an attorney who offers outside counsel services is a great first step toward learning what your business is most likely to require.

Inquire About Areas of Specialty

When talking with a potential hire, don’t hesitate to ask about areas of specialty. Many attorneys will be able to provide excellent counsel with a variety of matters, but they often specialize in one or more specific practice areas. Finding an attorney who is experienced in the practice areas most important for your company will help you to get the best results possible.

Make Sure You Get Along

When you hire an outside general counsel attorney, you are securing an ongoing relationship with an experienced legal professional with whom you intend to do business for the foreseeable future. Consequently, it’s important to find someone who you think will make a good long-term partner. Sharp legal acumen is crucial, but so are good communication skills, attention to detail, and reliable customer service. No matter how good an attorney is at being an attorney, if you find it difficult to work with them, they are not going to be the right choice. Choose an outside general counsel who you feel could do a good job understanding and responding to your needs so that they can help you as effectively as possible.

Experienced General Counsel in California

As the name Integrated General Counsel suggests, our firm prides itself on providing quality general counsel services to small and mid-sized businesses throughout California. If you think your business might benefit from hiring outside general counsel, contact us at (925) 399-1529 (1LAW) to find out how we might best serve you.