For many growing businesses, and especially for companies
just starting out there can be many points at which you need to consult a legal
professional for anything from writing contracts to getting to grips with the
rules around intellectual property.
Many businesses may have a lawyer who you regularly seek
counsel from, but it is also common to outsource whole legal projects to a firm
and be left wondering if it’s cheaper to bring in your own in-house team.
last few years have seen a growth in the number of solicitors working in-house,
and the Law Society’s report ‘The Future of Legal Services’ predicted that by
now the traditional legal model would have changed, with a movement towards more
in-house teams which it has started to do.
There are many factors to consider when deciding whether to
bring your legal counsel in-house, whether that means one lawyer or a whole
legal team and we have outlined some of the considerations below:
As with so many business decisions, you need to look to the
future when deciding on the best solution to your legal needs.
If your company is growing then you might need help with
scaling up staff, acquiring commercial property and other changes that require
You may wish to bring in outside legal counsel for each
process as and when it is required, without being tied down into paying for a full-time
team. In more broad terms, there are always economic changes on the horizon
which can impact businesses. These could throw up new legal issues that your
business hasn’t previously faced, so having
your own in-house team to consult can help you to weather the storm.
Consider the nature of the legal work that is required by
your business when considering whether to bring in your own legal team. When
you seek legal counsel from outside, solicitors will be able to provide advice
only and you will need to make the ultimate decision yourself.
If you want a more hands-on approach, it could be worth
adding a senior lawyer to your management team to not only inform you but also
to help make those key business decisions. On the other hand, if you simply
need help with day-to-day work such as preparing contracts and overseeing deals
then your legal requirements will look very different.
While for some companies the cost of bringing on full-time
staff can be prohibitive, it is worth taking the time to compare the costs and
the resulting benefits of both options. For some businesses the type of work
that they do requires regular assistance with legal processes- for example if
you do a lot of contract work for large organisations, or create a lot of
products which require patents or other intellectual property protection.
If there is a consistent need for expert guidance on these
types of matters then having your own in-house counsel can make things easier
by speeding up the process, negating the need for lengthy briefings and even
being part of the initial planning, costing you less in the long-term.