Outside General Counsel Services
Lawyers typically do not act until the client is faced with a problem. All too often a lawyer reacts as a result of a client not contacting us until a major issue arises. This all too often causes more harm and costs more money than is necessary. When we are able to act as "house counsel" or "outside general counsel" to our corporate clients, we are able to constantly access the legal landscape to make educated and proactive decisions to protect the client from liability and other major problems before they occur. By being proactive rather than reactive, we are able to prevent legal problems before they occur. We also assist our clients in the formulation of business strategies and then help C-Suite executives and senior management implement those strategies all while coordinating the delivery of a comprehensive package of legal services.
Many of our clients are entrepreneurs and mid-sized business that are large enough to require advice on sophisticated legal and business issues but not yet ready to employ a full time in-house lawyer. The Shanker Law Firm, P.C. satisfies the legal needs of our clients by acting as their outside general counsel. Our familiarity with the legal issues that growing businesses face, and our relationship as trusted advisors, allows us to anticipate the legal risks our clients are likely to face and to develop strategies for addressing those risks before they reach critical stages. In addition, by acquiring an intimate knowledge of our client’s businesses, we are able to provide legal support consistent with our clients’ needs and budgets. Whether negotiating a contractual relationship with a new vendor, addressing the hiring, discipline or termination of an employee, providing advice on risk management or simply dealing with corporate governance issues,The Shanker Law Firm, P.C.works proactively with our clients as an integrated part of their business team to effectively and efficiently manage the legal issues affecting their growing businesses.
The Shanker Law Firm, P.C. understands that the uncertainty of hourly billing can deter clients from seeking legal advice before signing a document, entering into a transaction or making a significant business decision. All too often the result is a very expensive mistake that could have been avoided or mitigated by timely legal consultation. This is the reason why we often utilize alternate fee arrangements. It gives the client an incentive to call us rather than the disincentive when you are being billed for the phone call.
The Shanker Law Firm, P.C. believes businesses are served best by attorneys and who are familiar with the client's business and industry, have represented numerous other businesses, know the business landscape and environment, understand the synergy between the client’s business and legal issues, possess well-developed analytical skills, have the ability to ask incisive questions that identify business risks and illuminate solutions and opportunities, balance firmness with kindness, and mix wisdom with humility and a personal touch. This is what The Shanker Law Firm, P.C. brings to its clients as their outside general counsel.
The Shanker Law Firm, P.C. understands that many businesses hate the uncertainty of the typical hourly billing arrangements. To eliminate this deterrence, The Shanker Law Firm, P.C. offers many of our clients monthly retainer agreements when such an arrangement makes sense for both the client and us. These agreements allow our clients to pay a fixed monthly retainer fee for all time expended on matters within an agreed-upon scope of services. The scope of services and monthly retainer amount are customized to the client’s needs and budget. Clients of The Shanker Law Firm, P.C. have an incentive to call instead of a reason not to call. This leads to better, more informed business decisions, reduced risk, predictability of legal fees and ongoing counseling relationships that enhance our ability to offer proactive advice.
The general counsel arrangement is not reserved for large corporations. Our retainer agreements offer our business clients scopes of services that can include the following:
- Review of corporate structure and possibly restructure to ensure maximum legal protection;
- Draft employee handbooks and corporate policy on risk management;
- Review insurance agreements and advice regarding insurance coverage disputes;
- Draft employment agreements, NDAs and non-competition agreements;
- Draft, review and negotiate agreements and commercial contracts;
- Advice regarding regulatory compliance;
- Advise regarding day to day operational issues;
- Devise the best legal means implement business goals;
- Counseling officers and directors on fiduciary duties and strategic considerations
- Regular meetings to keep abreast of all outstanding legal matters;
- Ongoing interaction with client's accountant and other advisors;
- Trademark and other intellectual property protection;
- Defend and/or prosecute all claims involving the corporate entity;
- Yearly due diligence evaluation;
- Strategic business planning;
- Maintain corporate records and Corporate Governance Documentation and;
- Ensure compliance with Local, State and Federal Law
Why We are Successful in Providing our General Counsel Services
We Know the Business. This seems pretty basic, but it always amazed me when lawyers represent a company, but do not really know the industry their client works in. We make sure we of the following
Know the ins and outs of our clients' services;
Know who our clients' customers are;
Know who our clients' competitors are (including strengths and weaknesses);
Know our clients' current business objectives;
Understand our clients' strategic plans (short term and long term);
Stay on top of trends that can impact our clients' businesses;
Track how our clients' are perceived in social media;
We Think Strategically. One key thing our client are looking for in a lawyer is someone who can think strategically and think outside the box. This means that you can see more than just the immediate legal issue. It means you can “peer around corners” and see what’s coming down the pike and how it may impact your clients' business, not only legally but from an operational standpoint as well. The non-strategic lawyer knows that a law was pending but figures he or she will start to deal with it once it passes or actually goes into effect. To think strategically, you must constantly scan the horizon for risk. And remember that the horizon is global and not just your home state or country.
We Build an Executive Presence. We catch the eye of company executives. We make sure to take the time to be seen as "executive material" in our dealings with the top level business executives. A big part of this involves how we present legal issues and advice to our clients. Everyone wants to see gravitas in their lawyers, but the real test is when a lawyer can take complex legal issues and put them into a context that non-lawyers can understand. Whether a lawyer can communicate an issue effectively and be a teacher to the client is a skill that is sometimes learned and sometimes inherent in the counsel of choice. At meetings, we speak up, weigh in with good questions, show we are paying attention, make solid points and observations and think quickly on our feet. We are confident, but not arrogant...and we do not fake it either. If we do not know the answer, we surely promise to get the answer quickly.
We Enhance the Clint's Business via our Non-Legal Skills. Just being a good lawyer is not enough anymore. A general counsel must bring more to the table than good legal skills. In many instances, the way we attract new clients is by being able to demonstrate important non-legal skills such as
Judgment, including ethics and integrity (the general counsel position involves making decisions with imperfect information in grey areas of right and wrong);
Legal budgeting and forecasting;
Business and financial acumen (e.g., understanding balance sheets, profit and loss statements, and cash flow);
Use of legal strategically to advance business interests (e.g., intellectual property issues);
Think about the “Big Picture”;
The ability to “get stuff done”;
Ability to spot risks and take action before they become problems;
Ability to effectively “triage” problems/weighing multiple data points and outcomes;
Discipline and drive – first one in, last one out;
Willingness to try new things;
Crisis management skills/Calm in eye-of-storm;
Regulatory Investigations. When the Federal, State or local governmental regulatory agency seeks to perform an investigation, time is always of the essence. But the problems that may come via a regulatory investigation can usually be avoided with proactive counseling. Regulatory investigations can come in the form of departments of labor wage and hour issues, taxing authorities for not properly withholding employment taxes in connection with improperly treating workers as independent contractors rather than employees and even claims made under the FMLA and ADA. Don't wait until it is too late.