HOW CAN BUSINESS LEADERS SOURCE LEGAL SERVICES?
I Can Just Do It Myself?
Every business now operates under increased legal and regulatory intensity. So you will need to have someone internal focused on dealing with this, whether that person is a lawyer or not. An experienced in-house lawyer is best placed to assist. They are the corporate equivalent of a GP. They are the first point of contact. The primary corporate healthcare giver. Using the healthcare analogy, its the in-house lawyer who triages legal issues for the business that they support. They will provide the help they can, but can also help to manage the provision of legal services from other providers if required.
Sometimes businesses think they can do this themselves, without a lawyer. Maybe they can, as its not impossible to run a business without an in-house lawyer. But what you get from Augment General Counsel’s First Counsel service is proactive oversight of the legal, compliance, risk and governance aspects of your business in a very efficient and cost effective way, from people with real experience and expertise in these areas. A general counsel has a different skill set to a private practice lawyer. General counsel or “GC” are predominantly legal risk managers. Often bridging the business world and the legal world. One of the key benefits is the intimacy that a GC has with the business they support. They are trusted advisors who build up long term relationships. Augment General Counsel’s First Counsel service also allows you, as a leading business person, to focus your time on other revenue generating aspects of the Business. Augment eases the burden on you. For any business obtaining legal, compliance, regulatory or governance advice just once in a while, it may not be adequately protecting itself. Operating without the right advice is dangerous for you, your business and all of your key stakeholders (including investors). Investors are increasingly looking to make sure that the businesses in which they have a stake are run properly and having a general counsel and governance professional on hand is a statement that the business is a governance-focused business .
I Only Use Traditional External Lawyers?
By only limiting yourself to traditional law firms, you may get tripped up by legal or compliance issues. Law firms are traditionally reactive, ad hoc or transactional advice givers. They are of course essential and valuable legal services providers in the legal ecosystem. They are deep dive subject matter experts in specialist technical areas of the law that an in-house generalist does not have the expertise to provide. However, traditional law firms are not generalists or first line support corporate legal advisers. By having someone who is integrated into the day to day of your business, you will have proactive support from someone plugged into your business, who is constantly looking out for you. Issue spotting. It doesn’t mean that you will no longer use traditional law firms. It means that when the business needs to source additional legal services from a traditional law firm, Augment General Counsel’s First Counsel service will provide precise and concise instructions and manage that relationships to maximise value and minimise cost. Augment complements rather than fully replaces traditional law firms.
Outside counsel often over segment, ie they are technical subject matter specialists in niche legal areas, whether that be employment litigation or mergers & acquisitions. Whereas in house counsel are the primary corporate healthcare givers, trained in legal triage and the first line of treatment. Some issues may never need to go to a more specialised legal provider. General counsel deal with matters as they come up but what really sets them apart is the ability to marry their knowledge and intimacy of the Business with their familiarity of the legal and regulatory environment in which the Business operates. Ultimately, enabling them to help steer the business in the right direction. If pressure is put on one area of the Business, perhaps through a contractual term or new regulation, they understand the effect it is likely to have throughout the rest of the Business. GC’s have a helicopter view. They can spot things coming up that might be impacted by new law and regulation and deal with those things before they get in the way of business or before the Business puts its foot wrong and breaks the law. Proactivity, the ability to bring together a deep understanding of a corporation’s commercial context and an understanding of the law and the in house helicopter view is what really differentiates in-house and external counsel.
Worth mentioning is that Augment General Counsel, as well as having general counsel expertise, is also a law firm licensed by NSW Law Society and insured by Law Cover with A$2million professional indemnity insurance. However, we do things differently to a traditional law firm.
I’ll Just Establish My Own In House Function?
You possibly could but it would take time to build – it takes about a year to fully build and resource a legal function from a greenfield site. Augment General Counsel can help you do this, if this is your longer term goal. However, Augment General Counsel’s First Counsel solution is “in a box” and highly cost effective, particularly when you will be getting a full legal department on a pay per use managed service basis. It also maintains the continuity of the person providing your in house legal support, but avoids the expense of full time GC and legal team headcount, therefore also making it good commercial sense. Moreover, using our innovative delivery model we can keep our costs lower than the costs of normal headcount. We focus on providing a permanent in-house solution but on a flexible basis. Once your business need is for someone permanently full-time, Augment General Counsel can even assist you to hire a full-time general counsel and then support them with our Augment General Counsel suite of services for the in house community.