There are barriers to small- and medium-sized companies and businesses getting the business law legal services they need. The incentives are wrong, and the market has not yet filled the need.
The Problem with Traditional Outside Legal Counsel
The traditional big firm legal market is overpriced and underperforms. In particular, it is hard to focus on adding value when the incentive structure is wrong. Rather than trying to boost “billable hours,” it would be better if the incentive were to work efficiently and actually reduce billable hours. In addition, a focus on billable hours disincentivizes clients from consulting with their outside legal counsel when they need to, because they are worried about open-ended billing. When small- to medium-sized businesses use outside legal counsel, they often find themselves presented with an unpredictably large legal bill – something they didn’t bargain for in advance. After getting burned by outside legal counsel, they tend to avoid using business lawyers even when they need them.
The Problem with General Counsel
The problem with general counsel is the lack of affordability. A small- to medium-sized company cannot pay substantial six-figure salaries to bring all their legal counsel in-house. And lawyers are reluctant to leave what they see as less risky options in return for joining a small or mid-sized company. The fit isn’t good for either side.
The Problem with Out-of-the-Box Options
There are cut-rate options that claim to provide the “contracts you need” and the “forms you need” for bargain-basement prices. But this is a bit like offering “free” access to a drug store. Exactly how and when to use a particular “cure” may not be clear, and lacking a full picture and a lack of ability to assess legal risks can be a source of legal liability and cause companies to miss business legal solutions that would be better for them and that without legal advice they cannot be expected to think of on their own. There’s no substitute for competent and caring legal advice, and as the old cliché goes, “you get what you pay for.”
The Fractional General Counsel Solution
That’s where the fractional legal counsel solution comes in. You can avoid the “billable hours” trap of outside counsel. You can avoid wasting money on a full-time general counsel attorney that you don’t need. And you can avoid using “out of the box” agreements in the wrong way, untailored for your business. Instead, you can get exactly the level of dedicated legal business counsel you need, who will know your business, and be incentivized to advise you properly without always inflating hours. And you can do so remotely, easily, from the comfort of your own office using basic video-conferencing and communications. And you can pick a lawyer who fits with your company’s company culture and its needs. All for a reasonable price. This is the new, disruptive way for businesses to get the excellent legal counsel they need.