Damn, my business is growing! Do I have to set up my own legal department now? Or how can I quickly reinforce my legal team? How do I ensure to have the necessary specialized support, either permanently or on a case-to-case basis? Have you ever considered the “extended workbench”?
Example 1: The company is expanding, the number of customers, suppliers, cooperation partners and employees is increasing. For better or for worse, this also increases the effort to tackle legal aspects professionally. Management cannot and will no longer cope with this effort on its own, however. The members of management would like to place the tasks in expert hands so as to devote their time and expertise to what they do best: developing their business, winning contracts.
Is this the right time to set up your own legal department, to hire a lawyer on a permanent basis – with all associated costs and HR issues?
Example 2: The existing legal department is well positioned for daily business. The team members, experienced lawyers in the company’s field of business, but generalist lawyers after all, manage internal and external legal inquiries. But now new, large projects are on the horizon. New business ideas are set to become reality, or perhaps someone has just been off for a longer period of time. The company simply lacks the manpower and additional support that is required for a certain period of time.
Does that mean that a new lawyer has to be hired on a permanent basis?
Example 3: The company wants to enter entirely new business fields, has ideas for new products or services, or wants to reorganize internal processes, maybe outsource them in part. The keyword is “digitization”! Now, there is a long-term need for specialized expertise on these topics – expertise that is naturally not available internally (“generalist lawyers”, see example 2).
Does it make sense to build up this expertise internally, for example by hiring young graduates of law who need to familiarize themselves with the subject?
The answer to all three questions is: No, not necessarily! In any case, certainly not if it is not clear whether the increased demand will continue in the long term and to what extent, or if support is needed at very short notice. Then it takes too long, is too cumbersome and ties up resources that should be directed towards the business. And if worse comes to worst, it does not even help at all, particularly when very specific fields of law or specialist knowledge are required. Specialists are usually working somewhere else on a permanent basis and may be hired, if at all, only with lots of effort or for a lot more money.
One way, it seems, are external consultants.
Retain a lawyer for your case! You will only pay for the urgent requirement, there will be no permanent salary. He or she will only work on your behalf when you need him or her. Depending on the field of law, you get to select THE specialist. At the same time, management members have reduced their personal liability.
Only: External advisors, who are used now and then, do not know your business really well, are only concentrating on the individual questions assigned to them and not the whole picture, will pursue their own (profit-making) purposes. This frequently leads to misunderstandings, frictional losses and considerable internal efforts to control the “external” individual. Not to mention stories about repetitive disclaimers in lawyer correspondence or “overbilling”.
The solution: the external lawyer with whom you are working on a long-term basis.
In other words, the lawyer, who is appreciated and whose work is appreciated, who knows the company and its business environment as well as the people involved and who is aware of their preferences for practical results that can be applied right away. Such an external individual acts like an internal person in the team and can sometimes address issues directly if it serves the cause. This lawyer is available when needed, but does not linger there all the time. On the other hand, with the experienced gained in the work for other clients, this lawyer still has the view of the outsider, can provide new input and impulses and thus serves as an excellent sparring partner for the company’s own legal department or management.
Ideally, this requires some time together, collaborating and getting to know each other. Oftentimes, this begins with a “test balloon”, an initial small assignment, and does not end with repeated assignments over years. In many businesses, issues relating to IT/IP law or data protection law are not daily occurrences. But if they do come up, you know who you are addressing – and you know what you are getting. That calms nerves and saves money. Another example is where the need for general legal support does not exceed one day a week. From the company’s point of view, it pays to secure external expertise as needed, through fixed time slots and individual remuneration agreements.
I will be happy to help you get your projects up and running!
Whether you are looking for permanent support or just to cover a certain period of increased demand: I am happy to offer you my services as an “extended workbench” in data law, IT/IP law and above all commercial law. You will benefit from my expertise and from my network. A cooperation in which, as a de facto outsourced legal department (or part of a legal department), I am organizing and prioritizing the legal topics for you. Where required, I will assign them to external specialists, I will answer internal legal inquiries of employees, take over contract drafting and negotiations of all kinds, or assist management as an advisor.