Evolving Role of Outsourced General Counsel in the Dynamic Legal Landscape

Guneet Mayall

December 29, 2023

Evolving Role of Outsourced General Counsel in the Dynamic Legal Landscape

In today’s business world the burden of consequences of non-compliance and litigation are protuberant making it imperative for the business houses to adopt and adapt to the robust legal, governance and compliance environment corroborating the role of General Counsel in safeguarding the interest of businesses and its promoters, directors, key managerial personnels. However due to the limitations of cost involved and limited experience in having an in-house General Counsel, many businesses are considering adopting ingenious alternatives such as outsourcing the services of General Counsel.

In-house and Outsourced General Counsel

An In-house General Counsel is a key member of an organization in a full-time role playing an integral part of the management. The position of a General Counsel is not only a costly affair in terms of company budget it is equally challenging to find the right fit for the role. Also, considering the senior managerial position of a General Counsel, he will usually need one or more legal aids in his team to execute and handle the lower-level work, augmenting the overall human resource cost to the company.

In contrast, an Outsourced General Counsel is an expert having vast and comprehensive experience and expertise, whose services are availed by the company and who is not in a full-time employee role. The responsibilities of the Outsourced General Counsel are the same as those of an in-house General Counsel but with fractional cost in comparison to in-house General Counsel.

It is however, interesting to note that not only the small and mid-level companies are engaging the services of the Outsourced General Counsel to cater to their legal requirements, nowadays even the larger companies who have a full-time In-house General Counsel are engaging Outsourced General Counsel on retainer basis to mitigate and transfer the associated risk.

Outsourced General Counsel over an In-house General Counsel

Involving a General Counsel at the inception of planning stage by companies is an agile way to get responses to their legal needs and a high level of engagement for new business processes and transactions to detect and mitigate the risks involved at the right time to avoid hefty litigation and non-compliance cost, as the new version of the age old idiom ‘a stich in time, saves nine’ is ‘planning and compliance in time saves fine’. The role of the General Counsel is to provide practical and viable opinions, legal risk management, transactional structuring, negotiating and execution. With the plethora of benefits of having a General Counsel, the downsides of having a full-time General Counsel involves the exorbitant cost to the company and circumscription of experience and expertise hence not the most efficient way to manage complex legal, compliance & governance risks.

This is where an Outsourced General Counsel becomes a much more efficient and effective option where the advantages of having a full time General Counsel remains without the corporates having to pay a fortune for a full-time in-house General Counsel.

Benefits of having an Outsourced General Counsel

  • Cost-effective option: Companies which are looking to elevate their legal experience without incurring high financial fixed costs in the form of salary and perquisites to the in-house counterpart are now engaging the services of an Outsourced General Counsel.
  • Expert and Custom Legal Services: Even the most equipped and best of in-house Legal Teams cannot be an expert on every legal issue. Outsourced General Counsels play an eminent role in providing transactional and legal support on new and ongoing business initiatives, advisory, contract management and assisting clients in litigation & regulatory actions.
  • Helping Hand to an In-House General Counsel: Large size companies with their in-house General Counsel have now started engaging the Outsourced General Counsel on a retainer basis not only to handle the workload at the peak period but also to share the risk associated with litigation, compliance and governance. If the in-house legal team of the company need guidance or assistance in a particular area, they turn to an Outsourced General Counsel for customized expert services.
  • Aid in Proactive Risk Management: Outsourced General Counsel are seasoned and with their thorough and vast experience they have a bird’s eye view of client’s corporate processes, market practices, vendor relationships, customer engagements, investors outlook enabling them to give suggestions and recommendations before a crises arise.
  • Allows Business, do Business: The right Outsourced General Counsel allows the founders and management of the organization to focus on the core business while they undertake the burden of contracts, compliance, legal requirements, human resource oversight on behalf of the management.

In Conclusion, hiring a general counsel becomes crucial for all businesses to address their legal issues and disputes. Considering the key role, a general counsel plays, the company should ensure that they hire the right fit for the position, who has the potential to manage their tasks effectively. An Outsourced General Counsel firm has a diverse team of legal professionals, who assist businesses in their legal pursuits in the most efficient manner.

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