Why Use an Outsourced Legal Department? (III)
By Jonathan Wachs, Offit Kurman
Why should an organization consider using an outsourced legal department? This series takes a look at some of the most compelling reasons to engage a third-party lawyer or team of lawyers to meet your legal needs. Part III.
Reason #3 to Consider an Outsourced Legal Department: Targeted Expertise
The decision to work in-house as a corporate lawyer is not an easy one for an attorney to make. Aside from the impact it has the individual’s career trajectory, an in-house counsel position can also drastically change what that attorney does on a daily basis. A job at an organization presents distinct advantages and disadvantages when measured against employment at an independent firm. In a recent interview with Modern Counsel, Dana Baughs, assistant general counsel at Allegis Group, described some of these advantages:
In private practice, I was always called upon once the company was sued. It was challenging because I knew I could help avoid these legal issues on the front end if I just had the opportunity for counseling and guidance, but clients didn’t have the time or the budget for that. I wanted to sit at the table as a business partner and help deliver ways for the business to move forward.
A strategic business partner versed in the right legal issues is precisely what most organizations hope for when hiring for their internal legal departments. However, while Baughs may have found her perfect fit, other in-house attorneys and their employers are not always as fortunate.
Members of corporate counsel need diverse skill sets and bases of knowledge. They may have to handle everything from employment disputes to government contracting to insurance recovery to the licensing intellectual property. When lawsuits occur, general counsel may not be prepared for the specific legal issue at play. As a result, risk escalates. Businesses lose money and create inefficiencies as they attempt to coordinate efforts between their in-house and third party legal providers.
Outsourced legal departments combine the varied knowledge private practices offer with the proactive counseling and guidance Baughs mentioned above. In contrast with the limitations of in-house counsel or the prohibitive fees of a full-service law firm, outsourced legal departments provide targeted expertise: in-depth direction and assistance when you need it.
The benefits of targeted expertise are especially apparent for businesses undergoing rapid growth. If your company had just won enough investment to double in size, think about the breadth of legal matters you would soon need to evaluate or update:
- Regulatory compliance analysis
- board membership
- terms and conditions of service
- workplace policies and procedures
- employment contracts
- vendor and partner agreements
- IP development
- litigation risk analysis
Rarely can one or two attorneys manage every one of these issues. Startups frequently lack in-house legal departments that can navigate all of the paperwork and negotiation nascent companies come up against. Sometimes, executive leadership does not establish a legal department until the company urgently needs one, at which point the organization scrambles to fill the vacuum. Meanwhile, it may take too much time and money to engage third-party attorneys and bring them up to speed.
When you need specialized legal assistance but cannot afford to hire a law firm or build an all-inclusive internal team, consider opting for an outsourced legal department. Through services such as Offit Kurman’s New Paradigm Counsel®, lawyers can provide clients with substantial on-site legal support for an extended but not indefinite period of time as well as access to dozens of legal professionals trained in complex areas of law. Your Client Relationship Manager acts as your liaison between your business and the firm, identifying colleagues best suited for your needs and communicating your priorities.
Targeted expertise can become a competitive advantage. Like general counsel, Client Relationship Managers participate in business meetings to stay synchronized with your company’s direction, add insight, and evaluate uncertainties. As autonomous attorneys, Client Relationship Managers empower your company with independent perspectives and immediate guidance in virtually any area of law.
If you already employ in-house attorney staff, an outsourced legal department can augment your existing legal efforts. This may be useful when you need to supplement your team with a regulatory specialist. Targeted expertise is also effective when you need more than one opinion, are looking to refine or refresh internal practices with novel approaches, or would like your general counsel to receive mentorship.
While attorneys hired from a private practice may have a financial incentive to act non-cooperatively with in-house staff, professionals brought on through an outsourced legal department frequently agree to a predetermined, customized legal service plan. Consequently, everyone’s intentions stay transparent, each person shares the same goals, and endeavors across your legal team remain harmonious and integrated.
To meet the needs of today’s dynamic organizations, Offit Kurman has developed New Paradigm Counsel®: a service offering through which Offit Kurman develops and delivers outsourced, customized legal departments. For less than the cost of traditional law firm engagement, New Paradigm Counsel provides clients with access to Offit Kurman’s comprehensive suite of legal services.
To read past articles in this series click one of the following:
Jonathan WachsOffit Kurman, Baltimore, United States
Jonathan Wachs provides strategic counseling and operational advice to clients in the areas of intellectual property, commercial transactions and outsourced legal departments. As head of the firm’s Intellectual Property Group, Mr. Wachs works closely with clients to develop, register, analyze, enforce, and transfer intellectual property assets in a customized, cost-efficient, and highly effective manner. Additionally, he conducts intellectual property audits through which clients learn the nature and value of their intellectual property assets and the steps needed to protect such assets from misappropriation or dilution. As a business lawyer, he has successfully negotiated and completed several multimillion dollar business transactions and has served as general counsel to several small and midsize businesses and organizations in various industries and professions. He also manages a blog about intellectual property issues, Friday Factoids. Mr. Wachs co-manages New Paradigm Counsel, a service through which Offit Kurman delivers customized, comprehensive and cost-effective outsourced legal departments. Through New Paradigm Counsel, Jon served as outsourced general counsel for a government contractor, a large printing business, a payment processing company and an identity theft restoration business.
Published: June 2016 l Photo: Colourbox.de - Nattanan