Warning: this post in our series on when to hire outside counsel may not be for you.
That's because -- if you are a general counsel -- it involves a decision that no self-preserving general counsel would want to consider. The decision is whether to outsource your own job. It may be impossibly hard to admit, but sometimes the company is better off outsourcing general counsel completely.
On the bright side, that outside counsel could be you.
Putting yourself out of a job may seem like the ultimate sacrifice, but it's not your life -- just your livelihood. If that sacrifice is the bottom-line best for the company, however, you've done your job. The question then becomes what next? This is where you, as general counsel, are in the best position to serve the collective and navigate your career at the same time. You know the company's history, needs, and the always-important budget. That should guide your next move.
If you've seen it coming for some time, you may have already lined up your next corporate job. That's one exit strategy. Another is to offer yourself as part-time general counsel. That can work, too, and may be the best for all concerned. It preserves your institutional knowledge for the company, and gives you the flexibility to do other things. As long as there are no conflicts, the world is your oyster or whatever seafood you like. Seriously, a job on the beach beats a job in the office anytime.
Of course, there is another side of the oyster. The inside may contain a pearl or just a sandy piece of meat. Whether you are inside or outside, you have a duty to keep all of that inside stuff in-house. We're talking conflicts of interest, not mollusks. If you go solo, part-time, or to a law firm with your client, you have to consider the possible conflicts. More than a few law firms have been conflicted out for crossing the loyalty line. You can't really be an effective advocate for competitors -- especially at the same time.