No matter what industry or geographic region your company serves, there are specific laws and rules that you must follow. This need usually prompts business owners to consider hiring legal representation but often find that they cannot afford the costs associated with in-house counsel. Outside general counsel is a perfect balance, even if you already have in-house counsel, due to this arrangement’s flexible and cost-effective nature.
The article below covers everything that a start-up or business owner should know about hiring outside general counsel:
What Is Outside General Counsel?
Outside general counsel is a cost-effective way for medium and small businesses to retain the services of a lawyer or law firm. You generally hire outside general counsel as an independent contractor to work alone or with your in-house counsel. They have the capacity to handle matters, such as drafting and reviewing contracts, going to civil court, or offering ad-hoc legal advice.
You can hire outside general counsel to advise you in the following areas of law:
- Commercial real estate
- Contracts & transactions
- Corporate governance
- Employment law
- Mergers & acquisitions
Lawyers or law firms that provide outside general counsel services come in a variety of sizes and specializations. They usually work on flat fees, subscription payments, and traditional hourly billing. Law firms that offer these services will transparently share their billing requirements and practices with you before retention.
What is an Outside General Counsel’s Role?
Outside general counsel’s role is to offer business law services to start-ups and companies. They work externally as independent contractors, which means that your company doesn’t have to afford the standard accouterments of working with private employees. Law firms that offer outside general counsel services are often prepared to customize their approach to your company’s unique needs.
Your outside general counsel team can fulfill the following roles:
- Managing legal drafting, contract negotiation , and contract review efforts
- Spotting breach of contract issues internally and externally
- Providing ongoing legal advice on routine matters
- Handling the delegation of incoming legal matters
- Working with specialists and experts to achieve desired results
- Coordinating with your in-house team to navigate various legal issues
- Engaging in risk management services to mitigate financial exposure
- Directing efforts related to internal matters, like board meetings and disputes
- Representing the company in transactions, negotiations, and litigation
- Advising on employee-related issues
- Training employees and executives on business-related matters
- Drafting the documents necessary for business formations
Your outside general counsel will need to possess the same abilities, qualifications, and skills as in-house general counsel. This requirement means that they must have a valid law degree and licensure through the local bar association. What makes outside general counsel’s different is that they serve multiple customers versus working privately in-house.
Benefits of Having Outside General Counsel
Companies of all sizes face legal issues regularly. Outside general counsel’s most significant benefit is providing ongoing legal advice and advisement on various matters, from regulatory issues to compliance.
Here are four benefits of hiring outside general counsel:
Benefit #1. Finances
Hiring outside general counsel is a cost-effective method of legal representation. Instead of keeping an in-house team on-staff, you can work with outside general counsel as needed. There’s no need to pay them benefits, bonuses, or make space at your office.
Benefit #2. Geographic Diversity
Many start-ups require the help of outside general counsel to transcend country and state lines. Breaking into new markets may require a full review of the rules and regulations that apply. Your outside general counsel can help you navigate these murky waters while helping you avoid legal mistakes.
Benefit #3. Specialization Access
It is beneficial to have outside general counsel based on their access to specialized people and experts. Outside general counsel can help connect with others. Instead of costs acting as a deterrent, the flexible nature of outside counsel can make it a possibility.
Benefit #4. Efficacy
Large companies will benefit from using outside general counsel for routine matters. They use in-house counsel to manage the overarching legal strategy and vision. In contrast, outside counsel handles the ad-hoc assignments. Small companies enjoy these advantages similarly since they can work with a solo practitioner on an as-needed basis.
Difference Between Corporate Counsel and General Counsel
There’s no difference between corporate counsel and general counsel. You can use the terms interchangeably. However, it’s better to use corporate counsel when referring to a corporation.
Can You Be Outside General Counsel to More Than One Company?
Yes, you can be outside general counsel to more than one company. However, the representing firm must ensure that no conflicts of interest exist with their current clients. More prominent law firms utilize conflict of interest software to ensure that your representation is ethical and fair.
When Should a Company Hire Outside General Counsel?
A company should hire general counsel as they begin experiencing significant growth. Usually, these benchmarks manifest in better infrastructure, a growing executive team, and raising capital. Even for the in-between phases of a company lifecycle, outside general counsel can become an invaluable resource that you can lean on as uncertainty arises.
1. When You’re Growing
Outside general counsel’s job is to assist you in growing and, hopefully, lowering expenses. As such, they’ll concentrate on contract and daily risk management, as well as acting as a consultant. They’ll review your company from a big picture perspective, keep you out of trouble, and look for opportunities to grow your organization.
2. When You’re In Trouble
If your company does find itself in hot water, outside general counsel can and will intervene on your behalf. Some matters are best handled by a business lawyer who has a strong command of legal knowledge and a deep bench of experience. They will make the dispute resolution and litigation process more streamlined while representing you as issues arise.
3. When You Need Legal Advice
Sometimes a business owner just has legal questions in general. Wouldn’t it be ideal to have someone on retainer that you could just call or email to answer them as needed? Outside general counsel is like having a legal doctor that can diagnose, analyze, and process your situation while applying relevant laws to it.
4. When Your In-House Team Needs Support
Outsourced general counsel and in-house teams can work together. Instead of bringing on another lawyer, you can support your existing team with outside general counsel. They can perform routine matters and take on transactional work that tends to bog down your in-house counsel while freeing them up for more pressing issues.
5. When the Benefit Outweighs the Cost
Standing on the losing side of a civil lawsuit is often more expensive than hiring a law firm in the first place. It’s not a drain on your financial resources if the costs outweigh the benefit. The firm you select should act as a transparent partnership that seeks to achieve positive outcomes for you and your team while not being afraid to offer a tough or unpopular opinion.
Hiring Outside General Counsel
If you want to hire outside general counsel, speak with business lawyers. They can offer you an initial consultation to learn more about how they can customize their services to fit your needs. Hiring outside general counsel is a wise approach if you need ongoing legal advice without a significant financial commitment.
Post a project in ContractsCounsel’s marketplace to get quotes for outside general counsel services. ContractsCounsel is a leading legal marketplace with vetted lawyers ready to help your business.
Meet some of our Outside General Counsel Lawyers
I'm a business law generalist with over 24 years of experience, including as in-house General Counsel, as outside counsel through my own firm and as an attorney in an Am Law 100 law firm. My employers and clients uniformly appreciate my ability to (i) negotiate and close transactions quickly and effectively, and (ii) to make the complex simple. Among other things, I can efficiently assist you on entity formation, governance, and structure; HR issues; mergers and acquisitions; and the negotiation and drafting of all types of commercial contracts. I'm the proud recipient of multiple Martindale-Hubbell Client Distinction Awards given only to the top 5% of attorneys for quality of service.
Strategic thinking business minded Outside General Counsel here to help you with your company. I have been able to help guide business owners from startup through series A, B, & C funding and ultimately IPO's. Regardless of your plans I am here to help you succeed as you grow your business.
Mr. Mehdipour attended the University of California San Diego where he received his degree in political science. After graduating from UCSD, Mr. Mehdipour attended Southwestern University School of Law where he received his JD. Upon passing the bar, Mr. Mehdipour gained invaluable experience both in a law firm and business setting. Mr. Mehdipour uses his prior business and legal experiences to negotiate the most advantageous results for his clients.
Alen Aydinian is a versatile attorney with over a decade of experience working with business owners and real estate professionals. Client engagement is central to a successful attorney/client relationship. Alen personally manages all client relationships so that his clients can see how their interests are being served at every stage of the process.
I help small business owners build and protect their dreams. I always thought that I would just be a litigator. Then I joined an intellectual property clinic in law school. We were helping nonprofits and small businesses reach their goals. I fell in love with the work and decided to open my own firm so I could keep helping them. When I decided to start Victrix Legal, I decided that it would be a modern law firm designed to serve professionals. It would be different from every other law firm. In my experience, my law firms are designed to promote inefficiency and reactionary lawyering. Because in most firms, you make more money when you spend more time on a project. And you lose money if your client doesn't get sued. In my opinion, that's a built-in conflict of interest. My firm is different. I use flat fees for most basic projects to keep costs predictable for you and incentivize efficiency. I offer long-term advisory plans and legal audits to prevent issues from happening. I want my clients to see me as their business partner, not just the guy they call when they are in trouble. If any of that interests you, please reach out to me. I offer free consultations. Let's set aside some time and talk about what your legal needs are.
My clients know me as more than just an attorney. First and foremost, my background is much broader than that. Prior to attending the Valparaiso University School of Law, I earned a Master of Business Administration and ran a small business as a certified public accountant. Thanks to this experience, I possess unique insight which in turn allows me to better assist my clients with a wide range of business and tax matters today. In total, I have over 20 years of experience in financial management, tax law, and business consulting, and I’m proud to say that I’m utilizing the knowledge I’ve gained to assist the community of Round Rock in a variety of ways. In my current practice, I provide counsel to small to medium-sized businesses, nonprofit organizations, and everyday individuals. Though my primary areas of practice are estate planning, elder law, business consulting, and tax planning, I pride myself on assisting my clients in a comprehensive manner. Whenever I take on a new client, I make an effort to get to know them on a personal level. This, of course, begins with listening. It is important that I fully understand their vision so I can help them successfully translate it into a concrete plan of action that meets their goals and expectations. I appreciate the individual attributes of each client and know firsthand that thoughtful, creative, and customized planning can maximize both financial security and personal happiness. During my time as a certified public accountant, I cultivated an invaluable skill set. After all, while my legal education has given me a deep understanding of tax law, I would not be the tax attorney I am today without my background in accounting. Due to my far-reaching experience, I am competent in unraveling even the most complex tax mysteries and disputes. My CPA training benefits my estate planning practice, too. In the process of drafting comprehensive wills and trusts, I carefully account for every asset and plan for any tax burdens that may arise, often facilitating a much smoother inheritance for the heirs of my clients. Prior to becoming certified as a CPA, I made sure to establish a solid foundation in business both in and out of the classroom, and the acumen I’ve attained has served me well. Not only am I better able to run my own practice than I otherwise would be; I am able to help other small business owners fulfill their dreams, as well.
Hello! I am a young attorney with four years' experience in real estate transactions, fund formation, and general corporate transactional work. I graduated in 2016 from the University of Texas - Austin and I am barred in Texas.
James David W.
I graduated from Harvard Law School and worked first for a federal judge and then a leading DC firm before starting a firm with a law school classmate. My practice focuses on company formations, early-stage investments, and mergers & acquisitions.
After 21 years as an in-house attorney for both large and small organizations, I formed Osensky Law in 2017 to bring my unique in-house counsel insights to entrepreneurs and smaller businesses. Unlike a traditional law firm, my focus is on delivering the kind of legal support a business wants and needs - not just technically correct legal advice, but strategic problem-solving with a focus on providing business value to clients. Since earning my law degree with honors from Tulane University Law School, I worked as in-house counsel for large multinational companies such as Georgia-Pacific and MCI, as well as smaller organizations including Georgia Technology Authority and Georgia Tech. This unique combination of experience allows me to bring together the best practices of all of them. I have led multi-disciplinary teams to achieve important business goals and have successfully negotiated many multi-million dollar deals. Now, as a business owner myself, I can relate to my clients and understand the challenges they face. I have an established reputation for providing practical advice and perspectives based on my legal training combined with over 20 years of practical hands-on experience as a business lawyer and leader. Today, with my firm Osensky Law, I advise clients on starting a new business, buying or selling a small business, and doing business with contracts.
G'day, my name is Michele! I work with startups, entrepreneurs and small/medium-sized businesses across the country in a wide array of industries. I help them with all of their ongoing, daily legal needs. This includes entity formation, M&A, contract drafting and review, employment, asset sale & acquisition, and business sales or shareholder exits. I'm half-Australian, half-Italian, and I've lived the last 20+ years of my life in America. I've lived all over the USA, completing high school in the deep south, graduating cum laude from Washington University in St. Louis, and then cum laude from Georgetown University Law Center. After law school I worked for the Los Angeles office of Latham & Watkins, LLP. After four intense and rewarding years there, I left to become General Counsel and VP of an incredible, industry-changing start-up called Urban Mining Company (UMC) that manufactures rare earth permanent magnets. I now work for Phocus Law where I help run our practice focused on entrepreneurs, startups, and SMEs. I love what I do, and I'd love to be of help! My focus is on providing stress-free, enjoyable, and high-quality legal service to all of my clients. Being a good lawyer isn't enough: the client experience should also be great. But work isn't everything, and I love my free time. I've been an avid traveler since my parents put me on a plane to Italy at 9-months old. I'm also a music nut, and am still looking for that perfect client that will engage me to explain why Dark Side Of The Moon is the greatest album of all time. Having grown up in a remote, and gorgeous corner of Australia, I feel a strong connection to nature, and love being in the elements.