General counsel is a catch-all term for a partnership with a lawyer. Hiring a lawyer to take care of specialized legal tasks for your business is helpful, but most businesses would prefer to establish a lasting relationship with a lawyer who is on retainer. It can streamline business and make getting legal advice and actions much, much quicker.
Larger companies will often hire in-house counsel and in-house lawyers to handle these tasks. Small businesses in Florida generally turn to general counsel services. You probably don’t need a lawyer for 40 hours a week—but you might need 10 hours a month, or more.
What Can General Counsel Services Help With?
General counsel services are your all-purpose legal solutions. They can offer guidance for business plans from a legal perspective, and handle any day-to-day legal tasks that arise. Services might include:
Contracts are one of the primary reasons that small businesses will need general counsel help. Lawyers can help you draft contracts, review contracts, and negotiate your contracts. Everything from basic employment contracts to extended vendor agreements should be reviewed by a qualified lawyer.
Intellectual Property Work
Even if you aren’t producing movies or patenting the next medical solution—you probably have intellectual property. Most businesses have at least some trademarks. And you’ll also need to copyright and protect your content, ideas, and branding.
Business Law Compliance
Depending on your sector, there are a lot of laws that your company is expected to abide by. A lot of these laws have to do with taxes and finances. Good in-house counsel can help do quick reviews of the laws relevant to your business, ensuring that you’re in full compliance with those laws.
You may not have anyone dedicated to HR as a smaller or medium sized business. Even if you do, they may only have limited experience with employment laws. In-house counsel can help your business remain compliant with employment law and resolve any legal issues that arise. If there are claims of discrimination or wrongful termination, you’ll need the legal resources to protect your business from expensive lawsuits.
Big Financial Moves
Mergers and acquisitions and taking the company public are times where it helps to have general counsel. Lawyers who are familiar with your business will have more insight into the operations, and are generally better suited to represent you. Even a great lawyer can miss nuances if they are unfamiliar with your business. Having general counsel that you’ve spent a lot of time with over the years is really helpful when it comes time to make a big move.
General counsel can provide business advice from a legal perspective and legal advice from a business perspective. They can help you see the big picture of your claims, equity plans, and even tax strategies.
When Should You Hire General Counsel?
Many businesses choose to wait until they really need general counsel, usually because of a crisis or complication. It’s far easier to hire general counsel before you need them than to scramble around in a tough spot.
Times where you may need extended help from a legal team include: mergers and acquisitions, taking your business public, and new stages of business.
Why Is General Counsel a Good Option?
Hiring an in-house lawyer is above the pay scale and needs of most small businesses in the Florida area. General counsel keeps your costs down while still giving you access to awesome legal services. Unlike hiring lawyers for single contract projects, you’ll have a trusted advisor that you build a relationship with. They’ll get to know your business, which makes their insight and services quicker and more valuable.