Finding the best general counsel lawyer is very important for your firm. Companies that wish to have outsourced general counsel services should do their homework properly and take into account all the points discussed below before selecting an outside general counsel.
In-house General Counsel has an extremely important role in a company. However, in-house counsel has become a highly-compensated profession these days and most companies cannot afford to have an in-house legal services team. Hiring outsourced general counsel services can be a better proposition for companies whose financial capabilities are not too strong. It is an efficient and cost effective option.
Companies who engage outsourced general counsel services fall into two categories: 1.Those without in-house counsel but who need regular and on-going legal support, and 2.Those with in-house counsel who need outside legal support on case to case basis.
Outsourcing general counsel services to the best law firm is not an easy job. Several parameters have to be taken into account before hiring outside GC services. We discuss below various options and tips on hiring an outside general counsel based on the type of work expected and the related skillsets.
Identify the Roles You Want an Outside General Counsel to Perform
Depending on the nature of the company, a general counsel may serve a variety of roles. These may include:
Legal advisors – A general counsel is the legal advisor to the company and its employees. This responsibility includes identifying potential legal issues, researching legal matters, and providing guidance to the executives and employees who must comply with the law.
Representative – The general counsel serves as the primary point of contact for all legal concerns of the company. This entails working closely with outside counsel on matters such as litigation and major business transactions
Service Provider – The general counsel attorney provides a variety of legal services to the company, such as contract drafting and review, procedures of corporate governance, and employment law disclosures.
Understanding the unique legal requirements of the company is paramount and is the first step in working effectively with outside counsel.
Skillset Required of a General Counsel
The primary function of general counsel is that of legal advisor. It entails spotting legal issues before they actually arise. This requires thorough knowledge and understanding of the applicable laws. He/she must also have strong research skills. Companies face a lot of legal issues and, therefore, the general counsel should be competent enough to do research and identify the legal nuances that apply to a particular operational situation. Also, he/she must be able to clearly and effectively communicate legal principles to non-legal professionals. Finding a general counsel lawyer with expertise in all areas of law is not easy. However, there are some core areas of legal competency that one should look for when outsourcing general counsel services.
Regulatory compliance: All businesses are required to maintain some level of regulatory compliance. Different industries have different standards of regulations. Some industries are subject to very strict regulatory compliance, while some others have to adhere to more lenient norms.
Corporate governance: All companies must comply with country’s corporate governance requirements. This may include annual filings, disclosures, meetings, record keeping, etc. companies are also required to make public disclosures based upon the tax and public status of the company. The general counsel is expected to advise on these processes and ensure compliance.
Employment laws: A company must comply with the employment laws concerning workplace hazards, employee rights, disclosures, etc. A general counsel must ensure that all these laws are followed and that no discriminatory practices take place while hiring, compensating or laying off employees.
Customer privacy: Businesses are required maintain total customer privacy. No personal information of the customer or client, such as financial information should be shared. Compliance with consumer privacy laws is a must.
Advertising: Companies advertising their products or services must comply with many state and federal consumer protection and privacy laws.
Intellectual Property: Companies that create or own any intellectual property right, must secure, maintain, and protect those rights.
Types of Legal Services to Outsource
The primary advantages of outsourcing general counsel services are cost effectiveness and expertise. The major concern is the pace at which the counsel works. When you outsource general counsel services, you must understand that you are not the only client of the outsourced counsel or a firm, there are multiple clients. How much priority your company gets is very important. Lack of continuity and sharing of information between outside counsel and the company is a major area of concern. As such, not all legal matters of the company are best suited for outsourcing. Matters that are commonly and more often outsourced include:
Administrative Work: day to day work concerning legal aspects of the company, such as discovery or electronic document review, legal transcription, claims and compensation, and collection services.
Research & Analysis: Determining legal standards by researching case law in legal repositories.
General Counsel Litigation: In-house counsel generally assists the outside counsel handling major litigations involving the company. The in-house roles can often be outsourced as well.
Intellectual property: In-house counsel is generally concerned with protecting intellectual property and avoiding any infringement what so ever.
Contract Work: General contract drafting and review can easily be outsourced to general counsel.
Finding the best outside general counsel is very important. Companies that wish to have outsourced general counsel services should do their homework properly and take into account all the points discussed above before selecting an outside general counsel.
Amy Jones is an expert legal advisor working at Ahlawat & Associates, a well-known one of the best law firms in India. She is one of the foremost lawyers in India who loves to help people in all aspects of the practice area.