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What Is an Outside General Counsel?

General Counsel

Running a business of any size is a daily challenge, especially for small business owners who by necessity must have their hands on every aspect of the business. Unlike large companies that benefit from in-house legal counsel or entire legal departments, small business owners have no such resource. Yet they face the same legal issues their legal counterparts do. From navigating complex regulations to managing employee relations and handling contracts, small business owners often find themselves in need of legal advice. However, hiring a lawyer every time you need help can be cost-prohibitive, while bringing in a full-time in-house attorney can be expensive and unnecessary for many small to medium-sized enterprises. This is where an outside general counsel comes into play.

Read on to learn more about how an outside general counsel helps small business owners run their companies smoothly and successfully. For help with business legal needs in Oxnard, Camarillo and surrounding areas, contact Rounds & Sutter, LLP to speak with a skilled and knowledgeable Ventura business lawyer.

Understanding the Role of an Outside General Counsel

An outside general counsel (OGC) is an attorney or law firm that provides comprehensive legal services to businesses on an as-needed basis. Unlike traditional general counsels who are full-time employees of a company, outside general counsels are engaged on a retainer or per-project basis. They offer the same breadth of expertise without the overhead costs associated with hiring a full-time, in-house lawyer.

An outside general counsel performs a variety of functions tailored to meet the unique needs of each business. Here are some of the key responsibilities an OGC can take on:

1. Legal Compliance and Risk Management: OGCs ensure that your business complies with all relevant laws and regulations. They help identify potential legal risks and develop strategies to mitigate them, protecting your business from potential lawsuits and penalties.

2. Contract Review and Drafting: Contracts are the backbone of business operations, from vendor agreements to employment contracts. An outside general counsel reviews, drafts, and negotiates contracts to safeguard your business interests and ensure all agreements are legally sound.

3. Employment Law Guidance: Navigating employment laws can be challenging for small businesses. OGCs provide advice on hiring practices, employee relations, workplace policies, and compliance with labor laws, helping you create a positive and lawful work environment.

4. Intellectual Property Protection: For businesses that rely on intellectual property, such as trademarks, copyrights, and patents, OGCs offer essential guidance on protecting these assets, ensuring your innovations and brand are safeguarded. If a specialist like a patent lawyer is needed, the OGC can connect with a qualified individual and liaise with them to make sure your matter is dealt with efficiently and with an understanding of your particular needs.

5. Real Estate Transactions: If your business involves leasing or purchasing property, an OGC can assist with real estate transactions, ensuring all legal aspects are properly handled and your interests are protected. Finding a law firm experienced in business, employment and real estate matters helps ensure that all your needs are met cost-effectively by someone who develops an in-depth understanding of your operations.

6. Litigation Management: While the goal is to avoid litigation, disputes can sometimes arise. An outside general counsel represents your business in legal proceedings or coordinates with specialized litigators to ensure your case is managed effectively.

Benefits of Hiring an Outside General Counsel

Engaging an outside general counsel offers numerous advantages for small business owners in Ventura County:

Cost-Effective Legal Solutions: Hiring an OGC allows businesses to access high-quality legal services without the financial burden of a full-time salary and benefits. This arrangement is especially beneficial for small businesses that may not have a constant need for legal services.

Flexibility and Scalability: OGCs provide legal support as needed, offering flexibility to scale services up or down based on the business’s current demands. This ensures you only pay for the legal assistance you need when you need it.

Expertise and Breadth of Knowledge: Outside general counsels are typically seasoned attorneys with expertise in various areas of business law. Their broad experience enables them to provide well-rounded advice and address diverse legal issues efficiently.

Objective Perspective: Since OGCs are not full-time employees, they can offer an unbiased and objective perspective on legal matters. This can be invaluable in making informed business decisions without internal pressures or conflicts of interest.

Choosing the Right Outside General Counsel

Selecting the right outside general counsel is crucial for maximizing the benefits. Here are some tips for choosing the best OGC for your business:

Evaluate Experience and Expertise: Ensure the attorney has experience relevant to your industry and the specific legal challenges your business faces. Look for a proven record of successfully assisting similar businesses.

Assess Communication Skills: Effective communication is essential for a productive attorney-client relationship. Choose an OGC who is responsive, transparent, and able to explain complex legal matters in understandable terms.

Consider Availability and Commitment: Confirm the attorney’s availability to ensure they can meet your business’s needs in a timely manner. A dedicated OGC should be willing to invest time in understanding your business thoroughly.

Review References and Testimonials: Seek recommendations from other business owners and review testimonials to gauge the attorney’s reputation and client satisfaction.

Contact Rounds & Sutter for All Your Business Legal Needs in Southern California

An outside general counsel can be an invaluable asset for small business owners in Ventura County, providing expert legal guidance and support tailored to your unique needs. By choosing the right OGC, you can navigate legal complexities with confidence, allowing you to focus on growing and managing your business effectively.

For personalized legal assistance in Ventura, Oxnard, Camarillo and surrounding areas, Rounds & Sutter LLP offers comprehensive outside general counsel services designed to help small businesses thrive. Call us today at 805-650-7100 to learn how we can support your business’s legal needs.