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You need in-house counsel when calling your outside counsel becomes inefficient. Maybe you are spending too much on fees and having an employee makes more sense. Or maybe your business is growing and you just need a trusted counselor to talk to whenever issues arise -- say, someone who doesn't charge you by the minute.
There are many reasons that you might want a lawyer on hand. But of course hiring another employee is always a serious consideration and this one is particularly important. Your in-house lawyer has to be able to do all kinds of things and switch hats with ease.
Smart Suit, Many Hats
Attorneys are not only useful for lawsuits. In fact, when you keep counsel on staff, you want to find a lawyer with an expansive approach, a flexible thinker. It helps to have a smart suit around the office, a hired gun to call your own, but only you know what you most need. So make a list of skills you would like this person to have.
There are all types of lawyers -- from the stiff to the super cool. If you find the right person, your in-house lawyer should be able to handle everything from contract negotiation and review to regulatory research and licensing, communicating with accountants or doing the taxes, entertaining big clients, and more.
A good attorney can research and execute, finding out what needs to be done and doing it. Your lawyer will not know everything. But a counselor should be able to confidently handle any question after research and offer you wise direction.
Not Mutually Exclusive
Hiring in-house counsel means you have someone around all the time to handle your matters. But that doesn't mean you will never need any other lawyer again. Depending on the circumstances, you may need to bring in specialists.
An in-house lawyer helps with that, finding the right representatives for a particular problem. Counsel will manage cases and represent the firm as a knowledgeable client.
It may sound funny, but it can help to have your lawyer speak to your other lawyers on your behalf. All are trained to frame issues legally and will have an easier time exchanging and making wise decisions. Plus, you will have a translator, someone devoted to communicating the issues and conveying your point of view.
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