Have you considered hiring an in-house attorney yet? Maybe you should. Some companies need a dedicated counselor who will guide the business through tough legal problems.
For some companies, in-house legal counsel should in fact be the very first addition. Some businesses need in-house counsel far faster than other businesses will. You may be one of them if:
- You’re creating new technology which might require you to apply for or protect patents.
- Your business involves the creation of intellectual property.
- You are working in a field which is at a high risk for liability or litigation.
- You have high legal bills right now, and/or highly unpredictable legal costs which are threatening your cash flow.
- You are working in an industry which has a lot of regulatory requirements that are difficult to understand and navigate.
Here are a few of the benefits of bringing a lawyer in-house.
In-house lawyers develop deep knowledge of your business.
When you hire a law firm you are one of many clients. By contrast, in-house attorneys are free to focus on your business issues and nothing but your business issues. They get coffee with your employees, hear the daily challenges, and understand the business strengths and weaknesses. They come to understand your company as nobody else can.
This means they are able to develop elegant, rich solutions that can protect your company even better than your outsourced counterparts. This elegance also comes from the amount of focus and energy they’re pouring into their work.
You get lightning-fast response to issues that need attention right now.
There is such a thing as a legal crisis, and you don’t always have time to wait for your outsourced law firm to get around to you. If a patent troll is about to steal the entire foundation of your business out from under you then you need someone who can address the problem and act immediately.
Moreover, you need someone who can protect you before issues arise. Ideally, an in-house lawyer is working tirelessly to identify potential liabilities, and to develop proactive solutions for addressing those issues before they become a problem.
In-house lawyers cost less (sometimes).
If you’re already spending a lot of your company’s money on legal costs than in-house counsel is definitely worth considering. A salaried employee isn’t adding line-items to an invoice every time you stop him or her for a 5 minute chat.
Sometimes the cost savings is negligible, but the cost-control isn’t. Legal costs can fluctuate and vary quite a bit from month to month. For some companies, having a fixed cost can be a lifesaver for cash flow reasons.
In-house lawyers can provide strategic business input.
J.P. Morgan once said: “I don’t want a lawyer to tell me what I cannot do. I hire him to tell me how to do what I want to do.”
For most companies this doesn’t mean you’re going to use your in-house counsel to figure out how you can act unethically or to cover yourself while you sell shoddy products. It does mean successfully navigating a complex legal system to stay competitive in a tough marketplace…especially if your business relies on overturning established business models. TechCrunch provides great examples:
“Airbnb challenged local hotel zoning laws, Uber took on taxi licensing requirements, and Pinterest built a business around posting copyrighted images. Start-up companies that simply follow the rules risk getting left behind. The right lawyer can mean the difference between pushing the envelope and breaking the law.”
If you’ve been struggling to figure out how to do what you want to do—if, in fact, your very business model depends upon it—then it’s time to call up your local legal recruiter. In the end, ensuring your business survives and thrives is the biggest benefit of all.