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 continue 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 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.