HELP! I’ve been contacted by a small private security firm who wants me to be their “on call” counsel. They describe it as a lot of contract review, drafting NDAs, etc. but also being there if/when they need to license a vehicle, defend civil suit, etc. It’s overwhelming but sounds like a really great opportunity. I have enough background to be comfortable with contracts and litigation, but don’t want to get myself into a mess. Has anybody else ever had a job like this?

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You practice law so if they’re paying then you’re getting into their mess. Make sure they pay first.

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A couple of thoughts. First, get help if they pose a problem you’re not qualified to handle - especially anything that touches criminality. Second, study up on what is and is not legal in this space. Case in point. About 10 years ago I hired some very high end spooks — former NSA people — to do a deep dive on the CEO of the opposing party in a tough case. I told them I wanted to know “everything.” About an hour later I started receiving the subject’s credit card statements over my fax machine. Which would have been swell but foe the fact that they had been obtained without the subject’s consent and, this, illegally. I immediately called, told them to stop sending those records, and shredded what they sent without reviewing them. I then called back and said “only send me LEGALLY obtainable information.” They knew what they were doing and pushed the envelope way too far. You need to know what they can and can’t do an ensure that you don’t explicitly or implicitly attach yourself to illegal activity.

Lastly make sure you’re careful with privilege and they are too. Especially if you develop a close relationship with them things can get pretty casual and you can end up with privilege waivers you didn’t intend.

Good luck!

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No other profession has these types of interactions. Crazy!

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Just to clarify, you are not working at another firm or company? I’ve heard from some lawyers considering similar arrangements but they don’t realize it would be a conflict of restrictions in their employment agreement.

Assuming that is not the case, this arrangement sounds fine but you should treat it with the same formalities that you would for any client. That means an engagement agreement and any requirements set by your bar association / licensing entity. You should also consider an accountant to verify that you have the appropriate tax processes in place.

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