What is it like to work with General Counsel? What is a General Counsel? How is it different from working with a solicitor’s firm?
I am a portfolio GC with My Inhouse Lawyer, which means I provide hands-on legal and commercial counsel to owner-managers and senior managers of a limited number of retained SMEs.
In the last two months, I have been asked to lead, negotiate or support more legal issues than most individual businesses will come across in years. Last week, I helped complete a small corporate transaction for an entrepreneurial client and negotiated away a notice to quit from a commercial landlord. Next week, I will be finalising the investor documentation for a FinTech raising funds, helping an LLP adopt its first generation of new partners and setting up a final account negotiation for a construction client. I will be undertaking this work with the benefit of in-depth insight into the businesses of my clients and at a cost to the client which will be much less than may be experienced with an external law firm.
Thinking, Advising, Doing
GCs need to have boardroom-level impact but they also need to be prepared to get their hands dirty. This is where we excel at My Inhouse Lawyer. We don’t just give advice. We do the doing – with a constant eye to the context and objectives of the business. For this, the GC needs to be a team player at all levels of the Company.
Being an insider
I have a client who has been growing steadily and now finds itself being commissioned to undertake work of much higher value, for a more diverse client-base than it conceived of when it started as a sole trader thirty years ago. My role is to undertake a fundamental review of its contract processes, from their simple telephone orders through to their full-service on-site engagement with customers. The object is to produce an upgraded suite of contracts that my client’s teams can use as their standard form and mostly have accepted without negotiation, (something we call fast-tracking sales).
The outcome of the review will not be successful unless I can get inside the business and understand how the teams are currently negotiating, securing and managing their work. I need to understand the business process, its flex or rigid points; and I need to have an insight into the needs and expectations of my client’s customers. I need to be talking to staff, interacting with management and reviewing past experiences – capturing the good and learning from the bad. Talking to staff is a highlight – there is so much learned-experience that has been of benefit to the company over the years. I can often capture the learned-experience in how we express the contracts and thus embed bespoke tactical gains into the processes of the company overall.
On one of my days in the client’s offices, a manager calls me over to her desk as I am walking past. She has a letter from a recruitment agency demanding that the company pays them an exorbitant recruitment fee for someone who is now working in their business. Oops! One short conversation later we make an email response. Five days later and a phone call from me, we have the ‘dispute’ settled on terms that have paid my fees for the contracts work. I send out a short bullet-point note to staff about recruitment traps for the unwary… and at least one person prints it.
My hero of the last six months has been my client MD who when faced with a customer being unable to pay a six-figure invoice, instead of shooting the customer, asked me to negotiate a debt-for-equity swap. I think there is a good chance he will make a substantial return out of it – on top of the amount of the outstanding invoices.
Whatever the cause, GCs are always dealing with the issues from the inside out. SME’s can be confident that their My Inhouse Lawyer GC is focused on understanding them and their business, holistically, and on delivering value that a business owner can measure.
Written by Chris Agace
Principal at My Inhouse Lawyer
One of our values (Growth) is, in many ways, all about cultivating a growth mindset. We are passionate about learning, improving and evolving. We learn from each other, use the best know-how tools in the market and constantly look for ways to simplify. Lawskool is our way of sharing with you. It isn’t intended to be legal advice, rather to enlighten you to make smart business decisions day to day with the benefit of some of our insight. We hope you enjoy the experience. There are some really good ideas and tips coming from some of the best inhouse lawyers. Easy to read and practical. If there’s something you’d like us to write about or some feedback you wish to share, feel free to drop us a note. Equally, if it’s legal advice you’re after, then just give us a call on 0207 939 3959.
How it works
It starts with a conversation about you. What you want and the experience you’re looking for
We design something that works for you whether it’s monthly, flex, solo, multi-team or includes legal tech
We use Workplans to map out the work to be done and when. We are responsive and transparent
Freedom to choose & change
A responsive inhouse experience delivered via a rolling monthly engagement that can be scaled up or down by you. Monthly Workplans capture scope, timings and budget for transparency and control
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For those one-off projects such as M&A or compliance yet delivered the My Inhouse Lawyer way. We agree scope, timings and budget before each piece of work begins