Fractional general counsel services (also known as outsourced GC services) are something new on the business law scene. The idea is to provide part-time in-house business legal services for however many hours are needed by the client, which is substantially cheaper – by a factor of 10, 15, 20 or even more – of obtaining a full-time in-house general counsel. And it is similarly far cheaper than using outside independent law firm services. But its day had come for three basic reasons:
COVID 19 Made Remote Work Normal.
While the idea has been around for a few years, the actual provision of outsourced fractional GP services came into its own during the COVID-19 pandemic. At that time, the traditional law firm, like a lot of other service businesses, moved way from brick-and-mortar office space and into remote work. Suddenly, lawyers who had spent hundreds of hours a month physically in the office found themselves home – or in vacation spots – wherever they decided to hole up for the various COVID lockdowns. All of a sudden, clients too realized that you could get legal services remotely. There was a decided paradigm shift.
No Gleaming Law Offices Means Lower Overhead and Cheaper Legal Fees.
It was at that point that many companies and many law firm lawyers realize there could be a way to cut legal costs while creating an even more positive lawyer-client relationship than before. Suddenly it was possible to cut overhead. No longer was it necessary to maintain costly fancy law offices as a necessary tool of practice. Attorneys could advise clients comfortably and safely via video conferencing and telephone and electronic communication of all kinds. If you don’t have to pay high overhead, you can pass on that savings to clients, and that’s what many lawyers did.
No Billable Hours Makes for Better Service and Better Lawyer-Client Relationships.
What many attorneys and their clients discovered is that dedicated in-house fractional general counsel services made for better business legal services. Taking lawyers off timers meant that they could unleash their creativity to do efficient work fast and well and come up with streamlined lawyering. The idea was to create dedicated in-house style relationships with businesses, whereby lawyers would work for them every month for a fixed retainer up to a certain number of hours. In that way, the lines of communication were opened between lawyers and clients. Both attorney and their business clients were aligned in their interests – to solve legal risk management and basic business legal services problems facing all small- to mid-size businesses. And both clients and lawyers understood how much the monthly legal fees would be without the uncertainty of “hourly billing” where it was impossible to estimate legal work in advance. The fractional general counsel model also solved the “black box” problem where clients were never sure what lawyers at law firm were performing their work.
By using the fractional general counsel services model, smaller to medium-sized businesses can harness the power of quality business legal services with in-house dedication at a bargain fee due to lower overhead.