How Companies can Benefit from Hiring In-House Counsel

Benefits to Hiring In-House Counsel

Companies of every size need legal support, but sometimes it can be a challenge to determine whether it’s best to rely entirely on outside counsel, or to build or grow an internal legal department.

Regardless of the size of the company, adding in-house counsel can add long-term value to any organization. Here’s how:

“Hard” Costs

The benefit that comes to mind when hiring inside counsel for many companies is the potential for cost-savings by having one or more attorneys on the payroll vs. going to outside counsel every time there is a legal need.

The idea is that the need to rely on outside legal advice and services, and the associated expense, will be reduced by more than the amount the company will be paying for the in-house lawyer’s salary and benefits.

While most companies find this to be true, the actual cost saving benefits can go way beyond those “hard” numbers, offering savings that are harder to quantify, but very real nonetheless.

Business knowledge = deeper legal advice

When a company uses outside counsel to handle all of its legal issues and transactions, the attorney handling the matter usually has a limited understanding of the business and the issue. Although that attorney or law firm might be very knowledgeable and experienced, it is sometimes nearly impossible to provide outside counsel with all of the color and details they need to be able to fully advise on complex matters.

With in-house counsel, the attorney is an integral part of the team, with a front-row seat to business operations, marketing, product development, strategy, and more. Therefore, when asking in-house counsel for legal advice, it isn’t necessary to spend time providing an overview of the company and its legal issues; the attorney has a treasure trove of information already, just by virtue of being on staff.

Good in-house counsel understands how the business works, who the key players are, knows the industry, and has a solid handle on how business units are intertwined. All of this knowledge leads to deeper, more meaningful advice and guidance. In fact, that depth of business knowledge means the in-house lawyer may be able to spot potential legal issues before they arise, and head them off.

Manage outside counsel

Even companies with fully-staffed legal departments still need to bring in specialized outside counsel from time-to-time, to provide a depth of experience or knowledge about a specific issue that internal staff cannot offer.

In-house counsel serves an important role managing the relationship between the company and the outside law firm, providing efficiencies in the process by being able to define the legal issue and key points with specificity for outside counsel. This, in turn, should lead to more tailored advice.

An ally for the business

Because in-house attorneys are seen as part of the company and have business knowledge and perspective, they are likely to be brought into more issues, and involved earlier, than is usually the case with outside counsel.

Where a business manager would likely not want to pick up the phone to call an outside attorney for a quick question, they know they can do exactly that with internal legal staff without incurring fees for the attorney’s time. This ease of access and comfort with the company’s in-house counsel should lead to business strategies that are well-vetted before they are implemented.

Proactive solution

In-house attorneys are invested in the success of the company, which is their only client. Because of this, they have an incentive to be proactive about many potential legal issues. In addition to providing traditional legal support, in-house counsel in many companies also may lead company-wide initiatives including:

  • Compliance with industry, state or federal regulations and related filing requirements
  • Records management programs
  • Intellectual property management
  • Dispute-resolution programs

Whatever a company’s legal needs, hiring in-house counsel can offer valuable long-term benefits, regardless of the company’s size or industry. Or sometimes, a temporary in-house attorney may be the answer. To learn more about how adding in-house counsel can benefit your company, contact Special Counsel today.

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