As you start to scale up your business, you may start wondering whether or not it is time to hire a lawyer full time to deal with your legal matters such as corporate governance, compliance, and contracts. However, hiring a lawyer may be quite expensive for an up-and-coming business. Further, an in-house lawyer may not cover the various potential issues you may need covered such as litigation. It may be smarter therefore to have a retained counsel instead before you make the leap to an in-house lawyer.
What is an in-house lawyer?
An in-house lawyer, or in-house counsel, is a full-time attorney who works on and advises a company on legal matters. In-house counsel typically advises the board and executives on matters of corporate governance and government compliance, reviews and drafts complex contracts for a company, and reviews and refers to incoming legal disputes. Having an in-house lawyer can save your company headache, drama, and costs further down the road as it is the goal of an in-house attorney to protect your company 24/7 from itself and third parties.
What does an in-house lawyer not do?
It is not typical for an in-house lawyer to litigate any claims in court. Most In-house lawyers are concerned with transactional law, compliance, and advice. Should your company be sued, oftentimes an in-house counsel will refer the matter to a local law firm. This also depends on the type of company you have. For instance, if your company is a property-manager or a loan servicer, then in-house counsel may participate in offensive litigation. Further, it is the goal of in-house counsel to prevent lawsuits and therefore, most will at least attempt to resolve a claim before litigation. However, should the claim require a trial, it is very rare for in-house lawyers to represent their company.
What is retained counsel?
In the event your company cannot afford in-house counsel, a $60-200,000.00 salary, does not need a full-time lawyer, or has needs greater than what in-house counsel typically provides, you should also consider retained counsel. Retained counsel is a lawyer you pay monthly for a certain number of hours dedicated to your business. This means, no matter what issues your business faces, you are guaranteed a certain amount of the attorney’s time, usually at a discounted rate. This can be an extremely effective and flexible option for most companies as they rise to the top as they can have all of the benefits of a corporate in-house counsel and litigation attorney for a flexible and discounted price.