Outside General Counsel

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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
  • Finance
  • Mergers & acquisitions
  • Technology

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.

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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.

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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

Meghan T. on ContractsCounsel
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4.7 (9)
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Meghan T.

Partner
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Atlanta
3 Yrs Experience
Licensed in GA
Emory University

Meghan Thomas is an accomplished transactional attorney. She specializes in real estate transactional matters, property disputes, IP, tech and business contracts. Meghan's innovative leadership style has attributed to the firm's rapid development and presence in the metro-Atlanta market. She obtained her Doctor of Law from Emory University where she worked with the State Attorney General and litigated property disputes for disadvantaged clients. ​ Prior to practicing, Meghan negotiated complex transactions for Fortune 500 tech and healthcare companies. She lives with her family in Southwest Atlanta, enjoys cooking, travel, dance and continues to develop her research in the areas of transactional law and legal sustainability.

Cecilia O. on ContractsCounsel
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January 31, 2022

Cecilia O.

Contracts Attorney
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San Antonio
15 Yrs Experience
Licensed in CT, MD
Ghana School of Law

With 15 years of extensive transactional/contracts experience reviewing and negotiating commercial contracts including a wide variety of purchase orders and contracts and non-disclosure agreements (NDA), I believe I can immediately contribute to the continued success of your team. I have been commended for a range of valuable skills—excellent contract management and contract administration, legal research, risk analysis, drafting and negotiations, and strategic thinking. I have worked as a legal consultant for 10+ years and I have reviewed over 7,500 contracts through this position. Contracts I have reviewed include but not limited to purchase orders, commercial and construction contracts, equipment rental agreements, non-disclosure, confidentiality, vendor agreements, service agreements, site access agreements, international agreements, request for proposals (RFP), bids and government contracts. These experiences have enabled me to master the ability to work independently and expeditiously to identify and assess issues and provide legally sound recommendations, consistent with good business practices. I have led teams (sales, insurance and management) to successfully negotiate contract terms with customers. Effective Communicator and Negotiator. I am a people person, and for the past 13 years, I have acquired excellent oral and written communication skills that enable me to interact and negotiate effectively with stakeholders at all levels. I am a self-starter with a strong work ethic. I have a high degree of resourcefulness, diligence, and dependability. Most important, I adapt to changing priorities quickly, thriving in an environment with high volume and short turnaround deadlines. My experience over the years allows me to transfer my skills to all types of contracts to meet the client’s needs. I am hopeful to provide similar legal expertise, effective contract administration and leadership to your organization. It would be a pleasure to meet within the next few weeks and discuss how my qualifications, experience, and capabilities will best fit the needs of your outfit.

Mathew K. on ContractsCounsel
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5.0 (1)
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Mathew K.

Founding Attorney
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Illinois
7 Yrs Experience
Licensed in IL
DePaul University College of Law

Kerbis' practice includes business and real estate transactions, estate planning, and limited scope litigation consulting. Mathew has negotiated deals involving multinational corporate franchises and has collectively helped hundreds of clients with their transactional, civil litigation, and appellate legal needs. Throughout his tenure as an American Bar Association leader, Mathew has advocated for legal education reform, interviewed ABA Presidents and State Appellate and Supreme Court Justices, and lobbied Congress on behalf of the legal profession. As a law student, Mathew served as an extern for the Honorable Justice Robert E. Gordon of the Illinois Appellate Court, First District.

Tina R. on ContractsCounsel
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Tina R.

AGC
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Arlington, VA
15 Yrs Experience
Licensed in DC, IL, VA
Loyola University Chicago

15 years for legal experience; expertise in contracts, healthcare, ERISA, physicians, financial services, commercial contracts, employment agreements, etc. I am adept at all contracts and can provide you with efficient and quality services. I have worked at a law firm, financial services company, consulting ,and non-profit.

Antoine D. on ContractsCounsel
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Antoine D.

Owner
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Tom L.

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Louisiana State University Law Center

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Craig Y.

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Craig E. Yaris is a partner at Parlatore Law Group, with the experience and drive to handle all your Franchise, General Business Practice, and Mediation needs. As a former small business owner and Chief Operating Officer of a franchisor himself, Mr. Yaris is passionate about promoting business growth. He has experience handling daily operations, employee disputes, and negotiations of pertinent contracts for a franchise company with 100 locations in five states, where he organized and conducted semi- annual meetings to educate and inform franchisees of best practices for improved growth. In addition, Mr. Yaris was responsible for the preparation and filing of the UFOC (Uniform Franchise Offering Circular) in several states and is well-versed in business formation. Between his time as Franchisor and Conflict Resolution Specialist, Mr. Yaris was the Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of an online company whose goal was to help inform marketers and business owners of the fast-paced and ongoing changes within their specific verticals. This experience helped him hone his research and writing skills and prepared him for the cloud-based aspects of Parlatore Law Group. Mr. Yaris also has extensive experience in public speaking, as he has planned and delivered several keynote addresses and educational seminars for many New York-based organizations, and as a Continuing Education Instructor for Hofstra University. Prior to joining Parlatore Law Group, Mr. Yaris worked as a Patient Advocate, and more recently, a Conflict Resolution Specialist, where he mediated and resolved disputes on behalf of patients with insurance companies. In this role, he negotiated for coverage of previously denied medications and medical procedures as well as successfully mediated disputes between individuals and business partners which would have otherwise resulted in protracted litigation. In addition, he has experience mediating employer and employee disputes as well as helping resolve family conflict. He has also studied and attended many Non-Violent Communication (NVC) workshops and strives to bring these tools and methods to all of his mediations. His variety of experiences speak to his ability to handle small business needs at all stages of business growth and development. Mr. Yaris also has experience with business growth and development, as he has worked with several small business on creating and implementing strategies for steady growth. In addition, to spending time with family, Mr. Yaris volunteers his time helping spread the message of the ACLU and he supports many local charities focused on families and children. He is admitted to practice in New York.

Amy P. on ContractsCounsel
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February 9, 2022

Amy P.

Principal Attorney
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Edmonds, WA
18 Yrs Experience
Licensed in WA
The University of Montana School of Law

Amy has served as outside general counsel and litigator to established businesses throughout western Washington since 2010. Her passion and focus is providing the best possible representation for clients in the construction, transportation and hospitality industries.

Jacob O. on ContractsCounsel
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February 14, 2022

Jacob O.

Contracts Manager
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Iowa City
2 Yrs Experience
Licensed in MO
University of Iowa - Law

I am bar certified in the lovely state of Missouri. I received my J.D. from The University of Iowa College of Law (2019) and my B.A. in Political Science from BYU-Idaho (2015).

Nicholas V. on ContractsCounsel
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5.0 (11)
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Nicholas V.

Attorney
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Denver, CO
4 Yrs Experience
Licensed in CO, NY, TX
Texas A&M University School of Law

I am a solo practitioner with offices in Denver, Colorado and Austin, Texas with a focus on general business and real estate contracts.

Kelvin R. on ContractsCounsel
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5.0 (5)
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Kelvin R.

Attorney
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Dallas, TX
25 Yrs Experience
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Tulane Law School

Experienced business and contract lawyer. Our firm specializes in commercial litigation and dispute resolution.

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