What are General Counsel Services?

“General Counsel Services,” also known as GC, outsourced or part-time General Counsel services, involve a private practitioner who performs the services of a General Counsel for a number of companies on a contract basis, and not as an employee. The fees and hourly rates for such legal services are much lower than those of comparable outside leveraged law firms, as much as 40% – 60% lower.

  • Outside Leveraged Law Firm Typical Fees
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  • "GC" Services Typical Fees
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Such legal counsel also may work on a guaranteed monthly retainer and work on-site at the corporations. Some clients may maintain an in-house legal staff, and the General Counsel Services provider assists with overflow legal work at a much lower cost than a traditional law firm. Other clients may have no in-house legal staff, and the General Counsel Service provider is the company’s primary legal counsel.

Most companies recognize the need to have lawyers represent them in contract reviews, drafting, and negotiations, and to provide legal counsel generally. However, many find that using the traditional leveraged law firm with partners and associates as a method of retaining counsel is not cost-effective because the overhead cost for things such as office space and support staff limit a firm’s flexibility in fee-setting, making the law firm’s costs unaffordable.

"Hiring someone to be an inside counsel can be costly and unaffordable. General Counsel Services offers an alternative."

--- Craig Kaiser, Attorney

When outside counsel fees climb, emerging companies consider hiring an inside counsel as an employee. With all of the fully-burdened benefits that employee status entails, hiring someone to be an inside counsel can also be costly and unaffordable.

General Counsel Services offer a third alternative to small and mid-market companies instead of the expenses involved in the use of traditional leveraged law firms and the costs burdens of a full-time in-house lawyer.

The Benefits of General Counsel Services

  • ORGANIZATION

    The ability to operate at a senior level in the company’s organization.

  • COMPANY POLICIES

    A close understanding of the company’s policies, strategies, and objectives.

  • COMPANY OPERATING PROCESSES

    A close understanding of the company’s operating methods, processes, products, suppliers, and customers.

  • MANAGE LEGAL RISK

    The ability to manage legal risk, to analyze the company’s strategies and to identify legal issues, and to develop plans and programs to manage and, if possible, to avoid legal problems that arise.

  • PROVIDE SOLUTIONS

    The timely delivery of work of high technical quality that also provides practical solutions which meet the company’s business goals.

  • WORK WITH COMPANY PERSONNEL, SUPPLIERS, & CUSTOMERS

    The ability to work closely and co-operatively with company personnel, suppliers, and customers as may be required.

  • KNOWLEDGE AND SKILLS

    The ability to add value to the efforts of internal clients, whether by saving money, avoiding losses, solving problems, achieving business objectives by using knowledge and skills to improve the way the company manages its legal risks and pursues its legal rights and opportunities.

  • MANAGE EXTERNAL LEGAL SERVICES

    The ability to manage external legal services for extraordinary legal issues that arise (e.g., litigation, public/private securities offerings, bankruptcy) in a cost-effective way that achieves optimum benefits for the company.

General Counsel Services - GC - Phillips Kaiser

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Take our free online assessment and see the potential savings for your company with General Counsel Services.
or call us at (713) 955-2740

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Why Do Companies Need General Counsel Services?

When outside counsel fees climb, emerging companies consider hiring an inside counsel as an employee. With all of the fully-burdened benefits that employee status entails, hiring someone to be an inside counsel can also be costly and unaffordable.

General Counsel Services offer a third alternative to small and mid-market companies instead of the expenses involved in the use of traditional leveraged law firms and the costs burdens of a full-time in-house lawyer.

What A General Counsel Service Delivers

Before & After

Strategic Legal Planning & Compliance
Contracts Management
Corporate Governance
Policies & Practice
Compliance Policies & Implementation

Compliance Policies

Legal Management

Legal Management

Outside Counsel Management

Litigation

IP

Without General Counsel Services
Unorganized
Poor Execution
No Strategy
Chaos
Lack of Awareness
Crisis Management
Battles over resource allocations
Lack of performance metrics
Reporting is stifled. Small Problems Fester.
The role of business is unclear
Runaway Legal Costs
Resource Capabilities & Constraints
Compliance Culture - Effective Policies & Training
Focused Attention & Execution
Developed Legal Strategy
Daily Execution
Issue Recognition
With General Counsel Services
Organized
Effective Execution
Leadership & Good Strategy
Fosters Innovation
Empowerment. Confidence.
Planning based on Business Risk and Accountability
Organizational Structure
Key Performance Measures
Clear, well-defined legal strategies that support the business
Guide business strategy formulation
Capabilities that support strategy

Thus, the legal process is broken when it comes to small and medium-sized businesses. With traditional law firm lawyers billing over $500/hour and more, for work that just doesn’t justify such high fees, businesses have nowhere to turn in meeting their legal needs. Traditional law firm relationships are very transactional in nature where communications are often very limited due to a fear of high fees for regular legal needs. This leaves companies feeling all alone in dealing with needs that are legal in nature.

Billing: Traditional Law Firms vs. General Counsel Services
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    Traditional Law Firms
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    General Counsel Services

General Counsel Services is a solution to the broken legal system to provide companies with at least one lawyer that can help the company capture value in legal issues and manage risks. The General Counsel Services lawyer participates as a member of the company’s management team to give business-oriented legal advice. The lawyer understands the company’s broader business environment and objectives and participates early in corporate decisions of the company. General Counsel Services allows the company to have the ability to capture value in legal issues and to have a lawyer to work as a partner with the management team to manage legal “pitfalls” to achieve the company’s business objectives and strategies at an affordable price point for the company.

Costs for General Counsel Services vs. Traditional Legal Services

Over the past decade, there has been a significant increase in the cost of legal services in the United States. For many companies, this has become unsustainable, particularly with economic downturns. Some companies have responded by threatening to fire their traditional law firms to bring down the fees, while others have looked to alternative billing structures as a means to obtain better value from their outside counsel.

Unfortunately, neither of these tactics addresses the fundamental operational structures of traditional law firms. These firms have played the central role in driving higher fees as they need these high fees to pay for their lavish offices, high employee/partner overhead and to maintain partner profits. As a result, most of these approaches have been largely unsuccessful.

Differences in legal spend by size

Spend % Revenue: By Size
Differences In Legal Spend by Size - Courtesty of Acritas.com Legal Spend Report

Size was the factor that caused the biggest diversion in legal spend. An organization with less than $200m revenue was typically spending nearly 10 times the proportion of its revenue on legal as an organization with $10 billion revenue.

Source: ACRITAS - Patterns In Legal Spend Report, Page 8 - June 2017

A survey of more than 2,000 chief legal officers and general counsel across multiple industries.

An alternative approach has been for companies to hire General Counsel Service providers that have more efficient operational structures, allowing companies to save 40% to 60% in costs over traditional law firms. Unlike traditional firms that are based on a partner-associate structure which drives high operating costs and higher legal fees, General Counsel Services offer experienced attorneys, partner level lawyers, who perform the work directly on behalf of clients. This benefits even cost-sensitive clients, who are usually offered inexperienced lawyers by traditional law firms as a means of providing a reduced cost.

General Counsel Service attorneys generally possess a unique combination of legal expertise and business acumen – many of whom are former general counsels or senior lawyers from large legal departments who offer the proper view of legal issues.

General Counsel Services - GC - Phillips Kaiser

Is your lawyer serving your business needs?

Take our free online assessment and see the potential savings for your company with General Counsel Services.
or call us at (713) 955-2740

Please note your information is safe with us. We will not sell or distribute your contact information to a third party. 

What Is Contracts Management?

Where are my contracts?

What are their milestones?

Who has access to them?

How can I share details with colleagues?

These are questions that over 70% of companies cannot answer. The agreements for performance with suppliers and customers are the lifeblood of a company. Unknown milestone dates can lead to an accidental automatic renewal for a service no longer needed, or the missed opportunity for renegotiation of key terms, all of which costs money.

Contracts scattered on desks, across multiple computers, and with several employees makes it difficult to understand a company’s contract portfolio, which creates unnecessary risk and cost.

Contracts Management is the system a company employs to understand its contracts and prevent loss of visibility to their terms. A good contracts management system is critical to realizing the value of the agreements companies enter into to run their business.

A good contracts management system usually incorporates technology and addresses the following:

Development of key agreement forms for consistency
Delegation of authority to sign contracts
Secure central repository so that contracts can be located
Tracking of key terms (renewal, price increases, etc.) for each key contract
Reporting system with periodic reporting to measure the value of agreements and risks to the business in their terms
Controls to ensure contracts are performed
Audit and evaluate ongoing performance and value of agreements and terms

Do I Need General Counsel Services?

In its simplest form, a company that has recurring or significant legal issues will benefit from General Counsel Services. Central to this service is the role of a General Counsel. Whether full time or fractional, a General Counsel’s role is to understand the client’s business, objectives and risk tolerance, to serve as an enterprise defender and to take overall responsibility for managing legal issues and their costs.

Where a company has recurring legal issues, traditional law firms would deal with a matter after it arises and continues to deal with that same type of matter each time it comes up. Each legal matter is separate and represents a unique set of facts requiring a bespoke solution. A General Counsel is charged with getting to the root cause in the business and finding solutions to reduce the exposure to the problem or find efficiencies to drive down the cost of an ongoing reality of running the business. This is accomplished only through a lawyer who understands the business, has goals that are aligned with the business owners, and can work effectively with company personnel, suppliers or customers as may be required.

A legal team that is compensated for addressing issues, but also reducing risk, foreseeing risk, and managing to a budget are all aspects of a General Counsel role that would be useful where there are recurring legal issues.

Significant legal issues are those which have a material impact on the company. They may be single issues or multiple ones. It may also mean that the business itself is large enough that it needs to head off legal issues that could curtail momentum or jeopardize value in a company that is valuable. A General Counsel adds value in this environment because the issues are identified and dealt with before they present as problems, and before positions have hardened and options are limited. Unlike the methods of traditional law practice, the General Counsel is positioned to have a close understanding of the company, its processes, products, and industry. More importantly, the process of communication allows the lawyer to be part of the business team, identifying potential issues and proposing business-friendly solutions when appealing options may still exist and before money has been spent.

General Counsel Services - GC - Phillips Kaiser

Are You Ready To Find Out If You Need General Counsel Services?

Take our free online assessment.
or call us at (713) 955-2740

Please note your information is safe with us. We will not sell or distribute your contact information to a third party. 

How Should A Company Deal With Its Legal Issues?

Entrepreneur Magazine
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    Not using an attorney
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    Failing to set up the right business structure
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    Not having terms and conditions policies to which customers agree to be bound
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    Failure to have a privacy policy
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    Failure to follow business tax laws
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    Inappropriate/incomplete contracts with outside vendors
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    Failure to get the proper documentation on employees
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    Failure to get non-disclosure and non-compete agreements
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    Not getting copyrights, patents, and trademarks

At the highest level, the greatest role of an executive management team is to create and preserve value in the business. From product development to marketing, to sales, to business development, opening new business lines and markets, streamlining old ones and fending off competition, these are all strategies for creating and preserving value in a business. Keen understanding of the business and strategic thinking are tools that the executive brings to bear in all these areas to maximize that value.

There is significant value to be gained or lost in how you deal with the issues that are legal in nature. They are just as surely a part of your business as marketing and sales, they can have just as big an impact on your bottom line as an increase in productivity on the shop floor, and how effectively you address them is hugely significant relative to your competition.

There are several key aspects of a management team that effectively addresses the legal issues in its business.

Managers understand how legal issues intersect with the business strategy. There are legal aspects to every corporate strategy; law is not separate and apart from the business strategy. Good management recognizes the importance of the law to the Company’s overall success and, although not a lawyer, understands the legal trends and how they impact the business.

Good management accepts responsibility for managing all aspects of their business. Management doesn’t delegate decision-making for legal issues; legal issues aren’t “thrown over the fence” to the lawyer.

There is a relationship with a lawyer or group of lawyers who understand the business and have an overall view of the legal issues in the business. That lawyer is brought in to business discussions early and often before the problem is a “fire.” The lawyer is a business partner and counselor, rather than a cop.

The legal function is viewed as other business functions from the standpoint of strategy that aligns with the business, budgetary accountability, and striving for process improvement.

Why Outsourcing Legal Counsel Makes Good Business Sense

General Counsel Services can be a practical, flexible, cost-effective, and innovative solution for any company or start-up.

If you run a small business or start-up, the odds are good that you will require the services of a legal professional. Whether for simple articles of incorporation or legal counsel on complex private equity deals, every business has or will at some point require the services of dependable, knowledgeable, and trustworthy legal counsel.

Unfortunately, dependable, knowledgeable, and trustworthy legal advice, counsel, and services are both difficult to find and expensive. For many small to medium-sized businesses, retaining a full-service law firm or hiring in-house legal expertise is out of the question. Retaining a lawyer from a traditional law firm can quickly become a significant expense.

That’s where General Counsel Services will help.

Instead of expending valuable resources on traditional leveraged law firms or paying huge salaries and benefits required for an in-house team of legal experts, many businesses can now take advantage of professional legal experts at a fraction of the cost.

General Counsel Services require a close business, and working relationship - which means finding the right GC for you is critical. In a typical GC-client setup, the GC is a private practitioner who performs the services of a General Counsel for several companies on a contract basis, and not as an employee. The fees and hourly rates for such legal services are much lower than those of comparable outside leveraged law firms, as much as 40% – 60% lower. In return, a GC provides general legal counsel on-demand.

General Counsel Services - GC - Phillips Kaiser

Is your lawyer helping you drive business growth?

Take our free online assessment and get our free report with the potential savings for your company with General Counsel Services.
or call us at (713) 955-2740

Please note your information is safe with us. We will not sell or distribute your contact information to a third party. 

How Do Outside General Counsel Services Fuel Business Growth?

General Counsel services change the nature of the game and even the playing field for small companies looking for affordable legal resources. General Counsel Services can be a practical, flexible, cost-effective, and innovative solution for any company or start-up.

Legal firms that provide General Counsel services can leverage economies of scale and their in-house synergies to provide world-class legal services to just about any client. This level of legal expertise and access to legal resources would typically not be available or accessible to the average small to medium-sized business.

Following  are some of the ways General Counsel Services help drive small business growth:

  • General Counsel Services allow companies to remain agile and respond quickly to shifting business conditions.
  • General Counsel Services can handle the large volume of day-to-day legal tasks quickly, efficiently, and at a fraction of the fees charged by conventional law firms.
  • Reduced legal fees and improved efficiency means more resources can be allocated to the core business thereby driving company growth.
  • General Counsel service firms provide expert legal personnel to the client site. This personnel allocation reduces the burden of bureaucracy on the client firm while reducing legal liability and risk exposure.
  • Expert on-demand legal counsel is readily available. High-quality technical work can be accomplished without the hiring, vetting, onboarding, and training necessary for inside counsel. Unlike traditional outside counsel provided by a traditional law firm, fees are substantially reduced.
  • General Counsel services free up time and resources that can then be allocated towards innovation and ideas.

When seeking quality legal counsel, businesses have options beyond retaining a traditional law firm or hiring expensive in-house counsel. General Counsel Services can provide superior legal knowledge, valuable business insights, and perspective on demand and at a fraction of the cost of traditional legal services.

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