There are lot of fractional GC services out there. So how do you know which outsourced fractional general counsel service is best? As with anything else, there’s a lot of variation in the market. So ask yourself the following four basic questions when choosing outsourced fractional general counsel services, and you’re likely to make the right choice:
Fees, Fees, Fees – Are They Hourly and Monthly Retainer-Based or Do They Vary Unpredictably By One-Tenth of an Hour Increments? How is the fractional GC service structuring its fees? Is it strictly hourly, billing by every 6 minutes (or one-tenth of an hour)? Or if you use a bit more time in a given month, is that ok? If so, then the outsourced GC you’ll be getting will more likely be incentivized to pay more attention to your actual business needs and less attention to a 6-minute egg-timer. That’s good, because attention to your business and it’s needs is what good lawyering is about. The same thing regarding monthly retainers versus strict hourly billing: Once there’s a monthly retainer, that takes the lawyer’s focus off the egg-timer and onto servicing your business. Because the lawyer knows that longevity of the lawyer-client relationship is dependent on service.
Fees, Fees, Fees – Are They High or Low When Calculated Hourly? Even though monthly retainers are better for your business when it comes to hiring an outsourced in-house general counsel, it still pays to do the math: When you divide the monthly retainer by the number of hours that retainer covers, how much are you paying per hour? If you’re paying more than $275 per hour, you can be pretty sure you’re paying a traditional law firm fee. Because traditional law firms need to pay for overhead, and that makes their billing rates expensive. So watch out for a wolf dressed in sheep’s clothing: The traditional law firm may try to package something and call it fractional GC services, but it may be just the same old traditional law firm lawyering in disguise.
The Bait-and Switch: Is the Lawyer Dedicated to You and to Personally Performing Your Work? Traditional law firms are black box. You really have no idea who is performing your actual work. It could be a faceless first-year associate in some cubicle in Sub-basement B. So the grinning necktied partner whom you know “personally” may not actually be who is personally serving you at all when it comes to doing your work. So make sure that the same lawyer you deal with for facetime is the lawyer who is actually doing the lawyering for you, too. That ensures that your outsourced GC attorney will actually know you and your business and that will be reflected in the lawyer’s work – no broken telephone issues.
How Experienced is Your Outsourced Fractional General Counsel Attorney? As anyone will tell you in any area of human life, experience is the best teacher and mentor. Business lawyers are no exception. Unless your business lawyer has at least a few good years of experience under his or her belt, you’re likely to be just another “learning experience,” and that’s not the way to best serve your business’s legal needs.
If you keep those four questions in mind, you’re likely to be on the road to choosing the best fractional general counsel services to serve your business’s in-house legal needs well.