There has often been a hole in the basic American right to legal counsel: That’s because good lawyers come with a high pricetag. For the following reasons, small- to mid-size businesses often are unable to access the legal counsel they need, and the reasons are often surprising.
Out of the Box Legal Solutions Often Cause Problems Because of Lack of an Attorney
There are a lot of out-of-the-box legal solutions available. These solutions can be tempting – at least on the surface. That’s because online you can find cheap contracts, cheap checklists, cheap incorporations, everything looks great on its surface. But what’s missing from the picture is the attorney who can offer risk-avoiding advice that you really need. It’s like practicing medicine without a physician or medical professional in your corner. Every mistake can be costly, and where resources are limited, the old adage of “penny-wise pound-foolish” applies: You can “save” on a lawyer, but you’ll often pay in other ways later.
So often smaller companies will opt for these cheap, out-of-the-box legal solutions simply to because they appear cheap and easy. But as always, you get what you pay for, and the converse is also true.
Big Firms Add a Lot of Overhead and Are Too Costly for Smaller Companies
There’s something comforting about a fancy law office. It adds a sense of professionalism. Having dignified, well-dressed partners greeting you with a firm handshake can seem comforting as well. But what’s not comforting about that kind of firm is the overhead. The pyramid structure means that associates bill high, and partners even higher, and most of the legal fees go toward the fancy overhead and the name-partners at the top of the pyramid. That means a very high surcharge to clients for the pleasure of dealing with a traditional white-shoe law firm. If you’re a Fortune 500 company, that’s fine. But if you’re a smaller company looking to create value on a limited budget, that can be prohibitively expensive.
So the obvious choice is not to hire such a law firm and “wing it.” Once again, there are substantial risks with not getting competent legal advice. A smaller company many have a great business idea, but that idea can quickly die without good lawyering protecting and nurturing it for a myriad of reasons.
Fractional General Counsel Legal Services: Changing the Options Available to Smaller Businesses
The space between out-of-the-box packages and a white-shoe firm is hard to fill. One of the best solutions to help small- to mid-size businesses has been the development of fractional in-house general counsel services. Smaller companies can have a dedicated lawyer who knows them personally and their business, but they don’t need to hire that lawyer full-time in-house. Rather, they can hire that lawyer on a fractional basis for whatever level of services they need. In this way, they can hardness in-house the same kind of legal counsel in a fractional way that other companies much bigger in size can access by hiring a full-time general counsel.