Any good lawyer’s objective is to provide sound legal support for the client. That much is obvious. But there is something truly invaluable about a legal partner who can offer advice, guidance and direction to help clients run their day-to-day operations more efficiently and truly advance their business interests.
This is exactly what lawyers with experience as in-house legal counsel are able to do. In addition to having a strong legal background, corporate counsel can draw on their industry and company experience to apply their legal decision-making with better context and business practicality.
A different approach to risk management
One of the ways lawyers with in-house experience are incredibly valuable to a business is in the way they approach risk management.
In-house lawyers live and breathe the business every day, witness the operations, interact with the employees, face the internal business pressures of helping the sales team meet their quotas, and learn what risks are acceptable to management. Corporate counsel can’t simply say, “No, don’t do this” or “Don’t sign that,” but instead need to figure out solutions to get things done and move the business forward.
Corporate counsel’s job is not to eliminate risk but to manage it in the context of the businesses to which they serve. The role requires a constant evaluation of what risks are acceptable, what risks can be managed or mitigated and what risks are too great that they may jeopardize the business.
Business-minded legal support
Lawyers who have in-house experience are better able to help their clients run and advance their day-to-day operations in the most efficient manner. These lawyers also come equipped with industry-specific knowledge related to their client’s business, making it easier for them to add incremental value to various business transactions, as well as to identify specific concerns or opportunities that an external counsel might not know about or consider.
Adding value to your organization
Legal departments are no longer the black hole cost centre they once were. Like any department within a business, they need to demonstrate that they add real value to the organization and its bottom line.
The role and capabilities of in-house counsel have only expanded in recent years, largely the result of organizations wanting to in-source more legal work. The reason for this is two-fold: first, they want to best leverage their internal business knowledge and resources in the legal department, and second, the ever-rising cost of outside law firms is increasingly disproportionate to departmental budgets.
[Read our blog post: 6 benefits of hiring fractional in-house counsel]
For many clients, frustration arises when their business relies on traditional outside counsel for any and all work that goes outside the full-time legal department, even if it is better done by an in-house corporate counsel or someone with that kind of approach and mindset.
Outside counsel is, by definition, “outside” – so no matter how skilled and knowledgeable they are, they are essentially performing their work in a theoretical vacuum, which often leaves clients working with them on business and operational matters feeling unsatisfied.
A lawyer with in-house counsel experience brings the best of both outside and in-house approaches to their roles. They have often trained, succeeded and gained valuable experience at business law firms and then worked as in-house counsel learning the intricacies of one or more industries. Through this combination, they are not only able to bring a foundation of legal knowledge and training but can also apply it contextually.
The best general counsel are able to delegate legal services according to who is best-suited to perform the work and who can accomplish the need most efficiently and with the most value-add. This includes looking at the component parts of more complex legal matters and allocating some parts to outside counsel and others to in-house counsel or in-house counsel alternatives.
Looking to work with a lawyer who has in-house counsel experience? Caravel Law is an alternative legal firm with over 60 qualified and experienced lawyers with specialized corporate counsel experience to help support your legal needs. Get in touch with our team today to find out more.
The information provided in this article is not intended to be legal advice. Many factors unknown to us may affect the applicability of this content to your particular circumstances.