• August 2018
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How to Hire a Part-Time attorney or General Counsel

A company, depending upon the type of company and the stage of growth, may seek to hire an in-house attorney or general counsel. A general counsel serves several very important roles in a company, such as advisor, representative, and legal service provider.

Unfortunately, not all companies can afford a general counsel. The role of general counsel can be demanding. The company needs a legal professional who is experienced and competent in a wide range of legal services. To attract an attorney who meets these requirements from private practice, she may well demand a salary or other compensation that is beyond the company’s ability. There are, however, numerous methods for lowering the cost of  in-house counsel for your legal services.

Reducing the cost of In-House Counsel

A company has several options when hiring an attorney. First, the firm will generally hire an outside law firm. In some cases, the law firm will lower its cost for general counsel services to a company in exchange for a guaranteed payment each month. This is commonly referred to as outsourcing the general counsel role. If the demand for services is extensive, it may make sense to hire an in-house legal professional to reduce the number of hours or legal services being outsourced. The legal professional may be an attorney or paralegal, depending upon the specific needs of the business. If the company wishes to hire an in-house attorney, it may seek to hire a temporary employee. This is common when the company is going through a major business transaction or restructuring. Employing a temporary attorney can be difficult due to availability, lack of commitment, and lack of continuity. If these are concerns, companies are left with the option of hiring a permanent employee. The question then becomes whether to hire a full-time or part-time attorney. Employing a part-time attorney can be far cheaper in a number of ways. First, the attorney will require a lesser salary than the equivalent full-time attorney. Second, the other employment benefits afforded the temporary attorney may be fewer. Also, a temporary employee may value non-monetary compensation, such as work from home or flex hours, more than a higher salary. Of course, finding a part-time attorney who is equally qualified as a full-time attorney may be challenging.

Where to Look for a Part-Time General Counsel

The first place to search is through company connections. If the company employs an outside law firm, it may be useful to seek their advice on finding a qualified attorney for the position. Many companies may not fully understand what they are looking for in a temporary general counsel. The law firm will understand well the services required by the company. It may also have personal connection with attorneys who would fit well in the role.

The next option for finding a part-time general counsel is to work with a staffing firm or legal search firm. Staffing firms generally specialize in temporary employees; however, it is not uncommon for temporary employees to later become full-time employees. It’s advisable to gauge the interest and intentions of a temporary employee at the outset. An employee legal search firm, on the other hand, is in the business of finding a legal professional that meets the company’s needs. If the company finds a qualified employee, it receives a finder’s fee. The fee is generally a percentage based off of the salary of the found employee.

The final option is to put out listings through attorney job boards. The best options are to work through the local or state bar or the American Bar Association to announce the vacancy to a large number of attorneys. This option can be difficult, however, if the company does not have a legal professional to evaluate the applicants or candidates for the position. Sometimes, an attorney’s curriculum vitae may not fully represent whether they would be the best attorney for the position. If your company pursues this option, it’s highly advisable to seek the assistance of a legal professional in the hiring process.

What Questions to Ask a Part-Time General Counsel

The most important questions to ask a part-time, general counsel are as follows:

  • Why do you want to work here? This should tell you how prepared and vested the applicant is in the position.
  • What motivates you and why? This should help explain why the attorney desires to be a temporary employee.
  • How do your experience or skills make you the right person for the job? The demands of a part-time general counsel can be greater than those of a full-time counsel. More may be demanded in a shorter period of time. As such, it is important to make certain the individual is a qualified professional.
  • How will you deal with a legal issue that you do not fully understand? This relates to the individuals legal problem-solving ability. It also asks about the individual’s network of resources.
    How would other people describe you and why? This goes to the individual’s personality. The part-time general counsel will need to work closely with other company employees. It’s important to understand her personality type.

LawTrades and Temporary Legal Professionals

If you find yourself in need of a part-time general counsel, look no further than the specialized services offered by LawTrades. We can help find a temporary legal professional to assist you in locating and staffing the appropriate professional to meet all of your business needs.

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