What do you do when you need a general counsel, but can’t justify a full-time one?
Instead of continuing the use of outside firms, the company turned to The General Counsel, LLC to provide GC-type services on a per-diem basis. One of the founders of this new type of legal services firm, Stuart Blake, explains that:
“Our clients are busy enough to need an experienced lawyer on their management team, but not big enough to warrant paying a full-time legal department,” Blake explains, estimating that a full-time employee would earn $150,000 to $200,000 a year to do this work, plus benefits. The General Counsel LLC charges $1,500 a day.
At Message Broadcast, President Bill Potter agrees. He thought he would bring [The General Counsel LLC] […] in three days a week to catch up on contract, insurance and transaction work and then cut back to two days a week. He hasn’t cut back yet, but likes the idea that he can.
“I get the greatest amount of expertise at the least amount of money and no (long-term) commitment,” he says.
Three other firms are among those offering such services:
— OutsideGC of Boston, MA
— The General Counsel, Ltd, of Minneapolis, MN
— General Counsel Solutions, with offices in New York, the UK and Europe
Many traditionally-oriented law firms also offer this sort of service–but not all are staffed with former GCs who have the experience of providing services exclusively outside the billable hour model.
Lawyers I know who provide this sort of service (on a per-day or a flat-monthly-fee basis) say that it encourages their clients to use them–and not cringe that each phone call will be rounded to the quarter hour. Clients like it because it offers some predictability for legal costs. Things like litigation or one-off transactions are usually excluded from these arrangements.
In the long run, I expect these service offerings to increase. It’s also a positive sign that for some ex-GC’s there is life after being in-house that can offer some of the same work experience that lured them inside in the first place.