Small businesses have many of the same legal issues as larger ones but typically, don’t have in-house counsel to guide them in protecting and growing their business. That is where a fractional general counsel (FGC) comes in to fill the gap. An FGC is an attorney who provides services similar to in-house counsel but as an outside consultant and on an as-needed basis.
How Are Fractional General Counsel Different From In-House Counsel?
An in-house attorney is usually a salaried employee who works full-time for the business. A fractional general counsel has his or her own legal practice, works with multiple clients, and provides services in accordance with an agreement. The number of hours, types of matters, fees, and length of the engagement are all customizable.
Both types of counsel typically have broad experience advising owners and companies and can assist in hiring attorneys to handle specific matters when needed. However, a frequent added benefit of fractional general counsel services offered by a law firm is that the company has access to a group of attorneys with a wider array of knowledge than a sole in-house attorney.
Who Can Benefit from Using Fractional General Counsel?
Generally, small businesses and startup companies utilize fractional general counsel. Because of their size and revenue, they do not require and usually cannot afford a full-time in-house attorney. However, they recognize the benefits of having experienced legal advice on all aspects of their business to help them engage in appropriate strategic planning and minimize liability.
What Are the Unique Benefits of an FGC?
Companies gain several advantages from hiring an FGC as compared to employing full-time in-house counsel or retaining an attorney every time a legal issue arises. These include:
- Affordability. Businesses only pay for services they need with discounts for additional services.
- Flexibility. The arrangement can be structured according to the business’s needs.
- On-demand access to a highly skilled attorney or group of attorneys. Companies have a resource to answer questions and handle time-sensitive matters when required.
- Comprehensive advice. Working with the same attorney means he or she gets to know the company and owners and can provide a holistic view of the business.
What Services Do Fractional General Counsel Provide?
Typically, a fractional general counsel provides a wide array of legal services. Depending on the stage of the business, counsel may assist with:
- Company formation
- Proactive planning
- Legal risk assessment
- Operational review
- Strategic business and tax advice
- Negotiating and drafting contracts
- Preparation of employee handbooks, employment agreements, and related documents
- HR and manager training
- Intellectual property review, registration, and monitoring
- Business owners’ estate planning
- Exit or business succession planning
- Litigation strategy
- Assistance in hiring other attorneys for specific matters
In future posts, we will discuss some of these services in more detail.
Retaining an FGC is an investment in your business. It will help ensure you lay a proper foundation for operating your company and identify risks and opportunities that can make a substantial difference in the future success of your business.
Contact us today to discuss how we can assist you.