In-House Counsel

Starting a new position as GC for a small company. I have experience reviewing contracts and doing some LE work. I was wondering if anyone had suggestions for resources that may be helpful?

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1. Lacking info regarding the industry, where is this company’s compliance program? As in-house for a Fortune 250, the smaller companies we acquire often didn’t put a lot of resources here and often times should have (which impacts the deal if your start up is ever in the running for an acquisition). If it doesn’t have a good compliance program and should, this would be the best way to add value in a short amount of time (and there would be tons of guidelines for this). 2. Get yourself a set of templates, most often used K types that can be easily managed by the business with little over sight from you. This will go miles in keeping your work load light, especially if you can add trainings or alternative clauses to help the business self-serve. This is critical because while you may be able to handle these requests now, as the business grows, if everything has a legal touch point, legal will stop the business from being nimble and quick, which inhibits growth. 3. Below the line risk (mentioned above) is key. Make sure to look at category and spend. Our company determined that any indirect spend below $50k doesn’t need legal review. You would want to look for your 80-20, top 80% of spend from 20% of suppliers. It will help you determine that realistic line. BUT keep in mind subject matter. There may be items that your company needs to have legal review even when the spend is 0 or negative (I.e settlements in your favor) - you would be surprised as to the things business folks think they can sign off on without legal review (especially the lower down the ladder they are). 4. Processes. These will be a lifesaver. Figure out the process by which business works with legal. HAVE THE BUSINESS BUY IN. I can’t stress that enough. Business needs to review and agree with the process if it is ever to be successful. This will make sure your inbox isn’t overloaded with random requests, and will help business understand reasonable timelines/expectations up front. Good luck!!

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Wow. Thank you so much for this. Seriously.

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Are you the only attorney at the company? I recommend starting off by getting a lay of the land. What other legal issues might come up that you may need to get some background in (e.g., IP, litigation, compliance, privacy, corporate, marketing). Association of Corporate Counsel has a lot of good resources and networking opportunities.

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Thank you!! Yes, only attorney for the company. Small-ish company. Does not yet qualify for FMLA. That’s great advice so far.

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As the only attorney you won’t be able to have eyes on everything. So it’s important to figure out what’s below the line for you risk wise. Try to set some guidelines for the business on when things must come to you. Find outside counsel that you like and can give you quick turnaround when you are at capacity and need an extra set of hands.

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Thank you!

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If you can afford it, get a practical law connect subscription. Templates and guidance from outside firms that is always updated.

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The Association of Corporate Counsel is a great group to join. Great way to network with other in-house counsels and share resources.

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Are you coming from a large firm or have friends in firms? I know some firms (including mine) have materials or guides for GCs that may be helpful for you. I will look and see what I have as well after the holidays (note it may be a larger company but may be helpful nonetheless)

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Thank you!! I am coming from a small/mid-size firm. Approximately 90 attorneys. I have a couple of friends in larger firms and I will ask them as well.

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I can’t emphasize enough learning the ins and outs of the business itself- the business plan, goals, technical make up, etc. The more you can know about the whole business, the easier your job will be.

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