There is a trend in business law services to small- and medium-sized companies called outside fractional GC services. Outsourced fractional general counsel services provide dedicated business lawyering at a fraction of the usual price. The idea is to open up the market to companies that normally would be priced out of the traditional law firm market. The model takes advantage of the lower overhead costs of remote working by business attorneys. By saving on gleaming corporate law offices, the lawyers can pass on the savings to their clients in the form of lower fees for better service. And on the other hand, companies can hire outside in-house lawyers for a fraction of the cost of hiring a full-time general counsel or paying an expensive traditional law firm lawyer to perform that function. Perhaps most importantly, with good outside fractional general counsel services you are provided with dedicated personalized service by a single attorney, not the kind of black-box lawyering of traditional law firms where a “service partner” or associate does the actual legal work while the rain-making marketing partner smiles at the client without actually touching the real legal work that the client needs.
But as with all other deals, make sure that you are not falling into a cleverly-disguised trap: traditional law firms masquerading as outsourced fractional general counsel services. A search of supposed fractional general counsel services reveals that many traditional law firms are simply posing as fractional GC service providers. They are nothing like the good deal that fractional general counsel services when properly performed offer businesses.
To make sure you are really getting a deal in outside in-house fractional GC services, make sure that the service you are being offered meets the following four criteria:
Low, Low Fees. Your fees when calculated on an hourly basis should be a fraction of those at a traditional law firm. If not, you may be getting nothing more than a wolf in sheep’s clothing – a traditional law firm marketing its services as outsourced fractional general counsel services without any of the savings.
A Dedicated Business Lawyer. You should be getting one lawyer who speaks and communicates with you and who does all your work him- or herself. That way, there’s no miscommunication as there is when the client relations partner of a traditional law firm is different from the service lawyer who does the actual work.
A Monthly Retainer Instead of Hourly Billing. Because the focus should be on service, rather than billable hours as is too often the case in traditional law firms, you should choose fractional general counsel services that operate on a fixed monthly retainer basis, covering up to the number of hours of legal work you think you’ll need. That way, you can pick up the phone to your lawyer when you need him and not be afraid of unspecified and potentially unlimited legal bills.
A User-Friendly Interface. You shouldn’t have to waste time on lawyers and platforms that don’t have good chat and document storage and billing features. The whole idea of outsourced in-house fractional GC services is that those services should be convenient to the max, and that means harnessing remote technology.
If you’ve verified that those four criteria have been met, you can be pretty confident that you have the best outsourced fractional general counsel services on the market.