You probably see a doctor a few times a year — both for preventive medicine or when something just isn’t right. Every so often, when your issue exceeds your general practitioner’s scope of practice, they’ll refer you to a specialist. Seeing a specialist isn’t ideal. For starters, it’s typically a more expensive visit, and your general practitioner has the benefit of familiarity with your entire medical history, but sometimes visiting a specialist is just what the doctor orders. Chances are, you already know all of this. However, what many business owners fail to realize is that your prudent approach to healthcare can also help you streamline your legal services — you can build a collaborative, in-depth, and preventative relationship with your general counsel (your generalist) and only see a specialist when it’s necessary.
Business Problems Caused By Seeking ‘Specialized’ Legal Counsel
A lot of business owners consider lawyers as “specialists” and really don’t have a general counsel. They have an attorney in every area of law where they may need counsel – for contracts, leases or real estate, employment, trademark, mergers and acquisitions, and corporate governance. This assumption that lawyers address siloed areas of business takes the business down a similar path as using a specialized physician before seeing the general practitioner first.
One of the most time consuming and costly issues with this approach is that specialized attorneys generally don’t have the full picture of your business’s past actions and future needs, the counsel and solutions created may create conflict with prior actions taken. Each time you engage, the specialist has to work with you and your team to get all the information needed to understand the entirety of the situation but also any background information needed to avoid any inadvertent conflicts.
Most business owners just want the attorney to take care of the problem — and struggle with what seems excess cost for the attorney to get up to speed on relevant issues. But the lawyer knows that a full understanding of the facts is necessary and that businesses aren’t so siloed — even if legal counsel has been inadvertently siloed.
General Counsel Provides Preventative and Prescriptive Care
When business’s use lawyers in silos, they often avoid working with an attorney to circumvent the time and cost of tackling a project — until it’s something so bad it’s a life or death business matter when they finally make the call. There are obvious issues with this approach. Fortunately, there’s another way: Working with a General Counsel — a general practitioner for your business.
The General Counsel is an extension of your company’s management team providing guidance on decision making as well as offering legal counsel and document drafting. Because the General Counsel is involved in day-to-day operations and decisions, they have a holistic view of the business’ past activities and future needs as well as an understanding of the risk tolerance of ownership and management. These insights allow them to more quickly offer counsel that is highly tailored to your business’s needs. A general counsel’s breadth of experience makes them a resource for the entire management team – able to guide account managers on contracts, HR managers on employment, executive team members on M&A, and facilities managers on leases. The general counsel guides your management team in these areas and knows when a situation gets complex enough or requires specialized skills. At that time, the general counsel brings in the necessary support and manages that relationship for the business.
Get the Counsel Your Need When You Need It
You may think that a general counsel is an expensive attorney and a solution only available to big companies — but that’s not the case. Equinox’s General Counsel Services packages can give your company the benefits of a general counsel on a part-time or fractional basis at a fixed monthly fee. Learn more about the truly unlimited support a General Counsel attorney can provide your business here.