The Right Time to Hire a General Counsel


As your company grows, you will need to make certain adjustments to sustain it. On the business side, you will need to secure financing, monitor sales, make new acquisitions, and form partnerships and alliances. These activities make things more complicated.

At some point, you will need to retain a general counsel to continue your success and protect your interests. Such a lawyer serves as protector, advisor, sounding board and preventative legal practitioner.

They will also look after the various legal needs of your company and will help you avoid troubles and resolve complexities that may threaten your company or hinder its progress.

4 Main Duties of General Counsel

right time hire general counsel

Here are some of the main duties that such a legal counsel will perform:

1. Manage Ongoing Legal Issues and Questions

The larger your business grows, the more legal issues that you and your executive team will need to deal with. Matters concerning real estate, re-financing, human resources, safety, environmental standards, and the like must be handled with promptness and efficiency.

Your in-house lawyer will be able to address all questions on these topics and provide you with clear, concise, and legally sound answers.

2. Negotiating Critical Contracts

A growing business is in a constant state of negotiation. You will need to draw up contracts for new suppliers, distributors, partners, and other businesses.

If you are growing, then you are most likely acquiring other businesses, real estate holdings, and even interests in other companies. You will need your in-house lawyer to lead such negotiations.

If you are undertaking a major acquisition, your lawyer may advise you to hire additional counsel to help with the workload and to scrutinize areas of the contract that require specialized knowledge.

On such occasions, your in-house lawyer will provide guidance and oversight to this team so that the final contract reflects your company’s business goals and protects the interests of all its stakeholders.

3. Preventative Care

You cannot micro-manage your people and departments and still expect good results. If you scatter your energies too thin, you will not be able to do your job as leader, which is to look at the larger picture and formulate long-term strategic plans.

An in-house lawyer can serve as a kind of enforcer of policies and programs meant to keep the company out of legal trouble.

It is the job of general legal counsel to help the executive team implement new policies, execute newly formulated strategies, and guide the actions of the various department so that no costly mistakes are made or new legal problems accidently created.

4. Litigation

At the very moment of your incorporation you become a target for potential lawsuits—from the local government, community activists, private individuals looking to get rich, and other businesses that want to destroy you as a rival.

The larger you grow and the greater your success, the more of a target you will become. It is the job of your in-house counsel to deal with all lawsuits and threatened suits.

Most of the suits filed against you can be resolved through negotiation. Whether or not you have to pay money will depend on the strength of the case against you, and your lawyer will analyze each suit carefully and advise you what to do.

In some instances, your position may be so strong that your lawyer may advise you to take it before a judge and have it dismissed for lack of evidence. This is not as risky as it sounds, as an in-house lawyer will only advise this if they have a strong basis for believing that dismissal is the most probable outcome.

In a small number of cases, you will have to take the matter to court. If it is necessary for your company to go through a trial, your lawyer will help you choose a top litigation law firm to represent you.

Why You Need an In-House Lawyer

Your time as an executive manager should be devoted to securing the long-term growth and prosperity of the company.

To do so, you must receive sound legal advice on each decision you make, and you must ensure that there is follow-through on these decisions. An in-house lawyer will cover your legal flank by carrying out the phone calls, updates, discussion, and negotiations required to keep the company on the right track legally. Such a lawyer will review existing and proposed policies, draft documents, examine proposed contracts, and do the other chores necessary to protect the legal rights and interests of the company.

An in-house lawyer will get to learn the values and culture of your company. They will serve as a zealous advocate for your interests and will come to identify your success with their own.

You need this kind of passion, loyalty, and dedication to your company and its mission. You need someone who will enforce your rights, resolve disagreements before they become conflicts, and ensure that every contact you sign is to your benefit.

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Author: Cathy Carter