There are both benefits and downsides to consider when you are debating whether to hire an in-house attorney or to contract with fractional general counsel.

Pros of In-House Counsel

When you hire an in-house attorney, you get consistent and in-depth legal oversight and advice customized to your business and yours alone. You do not have to worry about lengthy projects hiking up the price because (generally) you pay the attorney a set salary. Even if they are a general counsel attorney when they start the job, eventually they will be immersed sufficiently in your business to become legal experts on your specific company. That kind of in-depth knowledge can be invaluable.

The pros of hiring in-house counsel include:

  • An in-depth understanding of the company
  • Around the clock legal advice and services
  • Oversight of all business areas, including HR
  • Regular salary payments as opposed to hourly fees
  • Being their sole client
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Cons of In-House Counsel

In-house counsel is not the best choice for every business. The first and most obvious con of keeping an attorney on full time all the time is the expense of bringing on a full-time employee. In addition to their salary, you pay employment taxes, vacation time, employment insurance, life insurance, health insurance, and retirement funds.

Furthermore, their salary is required all the time, not just when you actually need their legal services. It all adds up fast! Do the math and make sure you would actually save money by bringing your legal counsel in-house. If your legal needs are seasonal, hiring fractional counsel may be a better choice.

Hiring an in-house attorney will not solve all of your legal troubles. Every attorney has their own specialty, but no one person can have an in-depth understanding of every legal issue that may arise in any business. For example, if you hire a tax attorney, they may not be up to date on IP or employment law. If those things became problematic, you might need to hire additional counsel. Make sure you will not have to hire additional assistance, potentially more than doubling your expenses.

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The cons of hiring in-house counsel rather than as-needed legal services include:

  • Employment taxes and other full-time employee expenses
  • Year-round versus as needed payments regardless of workload
  • Seeking out specialized legal services may be more difficult
  • Work may be insufficient for a full-time position or too extensive for a single person

Fractional General Counsel Pros

Fractional general counsel is the happy medium between hiring a new attorney every time you need something and bringing on a full-time employee. With the right fractional counsel, you gain the benefits of both worlds by working with an attorney who has a deep understanding of your business without the expense of a full-time employee. Fractional general counsel makes seasoned legal advice available to small and medium-sized businesses without breaking the bank.

Fractional legal services should be set on a regular schedule, so your attorney will have regular updates on your business operations and growth plans. They should be able to help you proactively work on compliance issues and point out areas where you may need some special legal action. From reviewing contracts to facilitating mergers and acquisitions to handling employee disputes, fractional general counsel can help you keep your business running smoothly for a fraction of the cost of a full-time employee or firm.

Fractional general counsel can benefit businesses through:

  • Avoiding overhead and employment expenses
  • Flexible schedules and price packages
  • The potential for discounted services for long-term relationships
  • Timely access to an attorney on an as-needed basis
  • Access to an experienced attorney for a reasonable price
  • Offloading compliance issues to focus on your own work
  • Reducing liability in the long-term

Fractional General Counsel Cons

If you find you regularly spend more on legal services than you would on a full-time employee, fractional services are probably not for you. Do you need full-time access to legal counsel? Do you find putting meetings off for a day or two because your attorney has a full schedule of other clients is extremely problematic? Hiring an in-house attorney may be a better option. Furthermore, if you run a complex business in a highly regulated industry, you may need to consider hiring a specialty firm, providing access to multiple attorneys with many specialties.

While using fractional legal services certainly has a lot of benefits, you should also consider that:

  • If you have a lot of legal work, you may spend more on hourly services than on a full-time employee.
  • Your attorney will have other clients, so you cannot be their only focus.
  • You may still need to hire specialized legal services for some issues in highly specialized industries.

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How Fractional General Counsel Helps Your Business

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Do you have a legal question? Don’t try to figure it out yourself. Contact our team today and we can discuss if our services meet your needs, or at the very least, point you in the right direction. 

Download our free infographic to learn more about how a fractional general counsel can help your business.

Download our free infographic to learn more about how a fractional general counsel can help your business.